West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, D-WV, said Wednesday that he prefers a special election to replace the late Sen.Robert C. Byrd, D-WV, but he has instructed the state's attorney general "to render a formal, written opinion" on that replacement process.
Though the secretary of state and the governor's own legal counsel have found that a Manchin-appointed replacement, by law, is to serve the remainder of Byrd's term, which ends Jan. 2013, the governor said appointing someone to serve longer than an individual could serve in the state's legislature "doesn't make sense to me."
Manchin said he expects the attorney general to render his opinion "no later than the first of next week," putting the replacement process on hold until then.
A special election would satisfy Republicans, but it would also likely serve as a convenient launching platform for the politically-ambitious gover and his own stated desire for a Senate seat.
While saying he would never appoint himself, Manchin told reporters he would "highly consider" running to fill the open seat at a press conference that, at times, sounded more like a campaign speech.
"I always wanted to put myself in a position to help West Virginia," Manchin said, as he decried the "bitter" atmosphere in Washington. "I think there has to be a lot of civility brought back to it," adding that he would "be very interested in seeing if that opportunity would arise," a reference to him running.
In that same answer to the question "Would you run?" Manchin took the time to tout West Virginia's "dependable, reliable energy" as a way to "move this state forward."
The governor also said there were a number of “high quality people” being considered, should the attorney general decide an appointment is in order.