The Chicago Tribune's Mike Memoli reports:
West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant announced today that a special election to fill the Senate seat held by Robert Byrd will not be held until 2012, settling some initial confusion about when a permanent replacement would take office.
Because the state filing period for the November 2010 election has already passed, Gov. Joe Manchin's (D) appointed replacement will serve until November 6, 2012, Tennant's office explained. On that date, two elections will be held -- one for the unexpired term ending January 3, 2013, and the second for the full six-year term beginning that same day.
Troy Berman, executive director of the West Virginia GOP, tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD that the secretary of state's reading of the law "seems accurate," though the GOP doesn't foreclose" the possibility of a "legal remedy" to force an election in November to fill Byrd's seat. "We're still examining our options," says Berman.
Berman says the state GOP will be calling on the legislature to act next week to hold an election to fill Byrd's seat in November. Though both houses of the legislature are controlled by Democrats, Berman argues that an unelected senator should not represent the state for two years when it is possible to have a November election at no additional cost to the state.