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Former aide to governor tapped for Byrd seat in US

 West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin speaks during a news conference at the opening of the annual meeting of the National Governors Association, Friday, Ju...
 FILE- This Tuesday July 5, 2009 file photo shows Carte Goodwin, who was West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin's General Council, at the Capitol in Charlesto...

Byrds Seat

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin speaks during a news conference at the opening of the annual meeting of the National Governors Association, Friday, Ju...

Byrd Seat

FILE- This Tuesday July 5, 2009 file photo shows Carte Goodwin, who was West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin's General Council, at the Capitol in Charlesto...

West Virginia's governor on Friday appointed his former chief counsel _ a member of a prominent West Virginia family _ to succeed the late U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd.
Gov. Joe Manchin announced Carte Goodwin's appointment during a packed afternoon news conference at the state Capitol.
"I know he's going to make us all proud," Manchin said. "I know that West Virginia is better off because he's passed this way."
Goodwin would hold the seat until November, when the governor wants general election voters to decide who will serve the final two years of Byrd's term. The Legislature has begun a special session to consider a proposal from Manchin to allow for a November vote.
The governor's appointee is not expected to run for the seat. Manchin has said it's highly likely he will, but he has yet to announce his plans. The Republicans' top choice is Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, though she is already seeking a sixth House term.
The likely special election will put another Democratic Senate seat in play this year as the party struggles to retain its majority. Democrats have a 58-41 edge, with Byrd's seat vacant, but are expected to lose seats in November, typical for the president's party in his first midterm elections.
Manchin said the seat will always be known as the U.S. Senate seat that Byrd held for more than half a century. However, "I am truly confident that Carte Goodwin will look out for West Virginians," he said.
Byrd was history's longest-serving member of Congress when he died last month at age 92. During Friday's announcement, Manchin handed Goodwin a pocket-size copy of the U.S. Constitution that Byrd inscribed and gave to the governor before his death _ the same red-covered version that Byrd would famously pull out and wave during floor and stump speeches.
Goodwin worked on Manchin's 2004 campaign for governor before becoming his chief lawyer. He served in that post until shortly after Manchin began his second term in 2009, leaving for his family's law firm.
When sworn in next week, Goodwin will become the youngest sitting senator, according to the Senate historian's office. The next youngest, Sen. George LeMieux of Florida, is 41 and the average age of senators is 66.
"We passed this torch to another generation," Manchin said. "I have been pushing young people to get involved in public service. We have passed that torch."
Last year, Goodwin headed an extensive, Manchin-commissioned review of the state's judiciary. While general counsel, Manchin said Goodwin was key in drafting mine rescue and safety measures that responded to fatal 2006 accidents at West Virginia's Sago and Aracoma coal mines.
State Democratic Party Chairman Larry Puccio, who had been Manchin's chief of staff, credited Goodwin for his role in that legislation as well as such other administration policies as the privatizing of the state's workers' compensation system.
"He's just a brilliant attorney, and I think he's very detailed and a disciplined individual," said Puccio, who had also been considered a potential Manchin pick. "I think he's a rising star, and West Virginians would do well if they involved such individuals in the process. I think so much of him."
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Associated Press Staff Writer John Raby in Charleston contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-03-02 16:13 GMT+08:00