The AP reports that Democratic West Virginia governor 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."
Goodwin will only serve as a placeholder until the likely fall special election for Byrd's seat. Manchin is calling on the legislature to vote to hold a fall election, and he is expected to announce soon that he will run for the seat. Manchin is very popular, but this video of Manchin endorsing Obamacare could be a serious vulnerability for the supposedly conservative Democratic governor during a Senate campaign.
During a March 15 panel on health care at the National Governors Association in Washington, Manchin said that he would vote for the health care bill if he were a congressman. The panel's moderator, journalist Karen Tumulty, asked Manchin and other governors on the panel, "If you were a House member ... and you've got your choice: vote up on the Senate bill or vote down on the Senate bill, how do you vote?"
"I'd be for it," Manchin replied. "You have to move this ball forward. ... I have never, since I've been in the legislative process, and since I have been governor, I have never got a perfect bill."
Manchin went on to praise Obama--who has a 35 percent approval rating in West Virginia, according to Rasmussen--for devoting so much time and energy to passing the health care bill:
You need to praise this president and this administration for sticking with this as long as they have. I'm not seeing this much commitment in anything else that we've gotten in the political process. We could have easily - and he could have easily - folded his tent and said, 'Listen, American people, I've given it the best shot I possibly can. I've expended more political capital on this one issue than any president or any group of presidents, and I'm willing to continue to expend everything I've got to move the ball forward.' For that you've got to give him credit.
Manchin's sky-high approval ratings (77 percent) may be scaring off his top potential challenger Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, but his support for Obamacare could drag him down in the polls as Republicans draw attention to his little-noticed comments praising the president and endorsing Obamacare in March. Rasmussen found that 67 percent of West Virginia voters want to repeal Obamacare. And while Manchin claims to be pro-life, Obamacare provides federal funding for abortion. His endorsement of Obamacare came even before Bart Stupak got his fig leaf executive order from the president. As Ramesh Ponnuru has written, most pro-lifers should prefer a pro-choice opponent of Obamacare like Shelley Moore Capito over a supposedly pro-life Democrat like Manchin who supported a bill that provides public funding for abortion.