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Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (AP)

West Virginia Senate Race Is On, Capito Could Run For 2; Manchin Is In

by Ken Rudin
Jul 20, 2010

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The changing fortunes for a special 2010 Senate race in West Virginia to fill the seat of the late Robert Byrd (D) have been resolved: It's a go.  State lawmakers last night passed legislation — and Gov. Joe Manchin (D) signed — providing for the election this year.

There will be an Aug. 28 special primary and a Nov. 2 general election to fill the 26 months or so remaining in Byrd's term.

The key part of the bill, which brought Republicans on board:  It allows Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, widely thought of as the leading potential Republican candidate, to run, if she wishes, for both the special Senate seat and re-election to the House seat she's held since 2000.

It's a version, I guess, of the old "LBJ Law."  The Texas state Legislature passed a bill in 1959 allowing Sen. Lyndon Johnson to run for president in 1960 as well as re-election to the Senate.  As it turned out, he didn't make it to the presidential nomination but he did run as John Kennedy's running mate for vice president — as well as for the Senate — and he was successful in both.

Other Democrats took advantage of similar laws to do the same in later years.  Lloyd Bentsen lost in his 1988 bid for vice president but was re-elected to his Texas Senate seat; same with Joe Lieberman in Connecticut in 2000.  Joe Biden, in Delaware, was successful for VP and the Senate in 2008.

One Republican had the opportunity to do both but declined.  Arizona's Barry Goldwater, his party's 1964 presidential nominee, could have sought re-election to his Senate seat that year but decided against it.

I can't think of a time when someone ran for the Senate and the House at the same time.  I do recall that in 1968, Rep. John Dent challenged Sen. Joe Clark in the Democratic primary, and when he lost that, he went on to win re-election to his House seat.

OK, back to the current century.

Gov. Manchin, as expected, announced his candidacy this morning:  "I would have loved nothing more than for Sen. Byrd were here, to be able to work with him until the end.  If I am so fortunate and honored to have the support of the people of West Virginia, I can't fill his shoes.  I can only hope to follow his footsteps and serve the people of West Virginia as best I can."

Extremely popular, Manchin carried all 55 counties in his 2008 re-election bid, winning nearly 70 percent of the vote.  His tenure as governor was up in 2012.

Carte Goodwin, his former legal counsel whom he appointed to the Senate on Friday, will be sworn in today.  He has said he won't be a candidate for the seat.

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