Manchin picks former aide as Byrd replacement

With the nation’s eyes on West Virginia for a rare moment in the national spotlight, Governor Joe Manchin has selected his former chief counsel to temporarily fill the US Senate seat left vacant by Robert Byrd’s death.  Carte Goodwin, described as a member of an influential West Virginia family, will take the oath of office later this afternoon, according to three sources contacted by the Associated Press:

Gov. Joe Manchin is tapping his former chief counsel and a member of a prominent West Virginia family, Carte Goodwin, to succeed the late U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, Democratic officials told The Associated Press on Friday. …

The 36-year-old Goodwin, a Charleston lawyer, would hold the seat until November. That’s 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 fall vote.

Goodwin has numerous connections in state politics.  He has an uncle on the federal bench, a cousin is the US Attorney for one of the federal districts in WV, and his wife works for his new Senate colleague, Jay Rockefeller.  The young Goodwin already had a bright future in politics, and now Manchin has given it a jump.

Goodwin shouldn’t get too comfortable, however.  Manchin has decided to call a special legislative session to get a November special election to fill the seat — and has himself in mind as the candidate.  Goodwin will only act as a placeholder until then, and with the shortened special session, will only have a few weeks of actual duty in the Senate.  His job will be to cast votes based on Manchin’s agenda, as the Republican who challenges for the seat will surely use Goodwin’s record to criticize Manchin otherwise.