June 29, 2010

Senator Byrd Replacement By Decree

According to Jim Geraghty at National Review, while West Virginia law seemingly indicates a special election must be held to replace the deceased Senator,  it's not likely to happen:
You and I look at a West Virginia state law that declares an election must be called if a vacancy occurs more than two-and-a-half years before a term expires, and note that Byrd’s term would have had two-and-a-half years left as of next week — July 3, and so we conclude, there ought to be a Senate election in 2010.
(emphasis added)

Take a look at Politico's piece on the situation.
Back in West Virginia, election officials hurriedly worked to clarify a murky succession law, ruling that it enables Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin to appoint a successor who will serve until a special election is held in November 2012
...Manchin’s decision on whom to appoint to the seat carries a significant upside and risk for a governor who many expect will seek the Senate seat in 2012. West Virginia officials have laid out a complex succession plan in which the appointee will serve until November 2012, when a special election will be held to choose someone to finish the remainder of the term — from November 2012 to January 2013. On the same day as the special election, a regular election will be held for the new six-year term that begins in January 2013 and runs through 2019. 
(emphasis added)

It sure sounds like a done deal.  But murky?  What's so murky about this?
If the vacancy occurs less than two years and six months before the end of the term, the Governor appoints someone to fill the unexpired term and there is no election.  If the vacancy occurs two years and six months or more before the end of the term, the Governor appoints someone to serve until the unexpired term is filled at the conclusion of the next candidate filing period, Primary Election, General Election and certification.  The winner of that General Election fills the balance of the unexpired term.  The election for the full term will be held as scheduled regardless of the date of the vacancy.
These provisions are set out in West Virginia Code §3-10-3.
(emphasis added)

Politico I guess, is good for scoops AND slant.  Not a single mention of a counter-opinion on that point.  Not one.


  1. The section paraphrased here actually says "if the unexpired term of any other office named in this section is for a period of less than two years and six months, the appointment to fill the vacancy is for the unexpired term." If the Governor had made an appointment before the funeral the two elections in November 2012 would have been required. Since he waited the unexpired term at the time of the appointment will be less than two years, six months, the appointment will be "for the unexpired term" through January 3, 2013 and no extra election will be held.

  2. The section also says "If the unexpired term of any office be for a longer period than above specified, the appointment shall be until a successor to the office has timely filed a certificate of candidacy, has been nominated at the primary election next following such timely filing and has thereafter been elected and qualified to fill the unexpired term."

    Playing politics with the dates by waiting until after the funeral is just that - playing politics.

    Besides, it looks like the governor wants to run for the seat himself. At least he's not appointing himself.

  3. Greetings,

    I have a message for the webmaster/admin here at nonsensibleshoes.blogspot.com.

    May I use part of the information from this post right above if I give a link back to this website?



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