West Virginia is a rough-and-tumble state; recently deceased Senator Robert C. Byrd knew how to handle himself. For more than 50 years, Robert Byrd served the people of the state of West Virginia, and the American people. As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, on June 28, at around 3 a.m., Byrd passed away at Inova Fairfax Hospital. Byrd had been admitted the day before for what was assumed was heatstroke and dehydration; it was revealed later that Byrd had health concerns beyond that, though no details have, at the time of this writing, been made available. What’s next for West Virginia in the wake of Robert Byrd?
Appointment or Election:
The Washington Examiner reports that, because of the timing of Byrd’s death (a few short days before July 3, which would have required an appointment to fill in the rest of Byrd’s term) there will be a special election in November. That means whoever wants to run has to put a campaign together in short order. It’s looking like one of two choices right now: Democratic governor Joe Manchin and Republican Representative Shelly Moore Capito.
Democratic Governor Joe Manchin:
In West Virginia, there are really no good options for the Obama White House. This is because Joe Manchin, who is a Democrat and viewed very favorably by the largely elderly electorate in West Virginia, has strong right-of-center positions. Manchin is pro-life, is heavily steeped in the coal industry, and is big into Second Amendment rights (though today’s Supreme Court decision about the right to keep and bear arms trumping local laws could help color that portion of Manchin’s resume).
Still, a Democrat is better than a Republican for Obama, even if the voting could be in either direction. Obama is looking toward a Tea Party movement in many sectors of an America where Sarah Palin still commands an alleged $100,000 for speaking engagements at public schools in the broke state of California. Democrats need all the seats they can get.
Rep. Shelly Moore Capito:
Popular three-term West Virginia Governor Arch Moore’s daughter, Rep. Shelly Moore Capito has been creating an identity all her own in a state mired in contradictions. Capito is a Republican who believes in a woman’s right to an abortion, and also believes in global warming. The Republican in this potential battle can’t run to the right of her Democratic challenger; that’s strange. Capito did support the Bush War on Terror and tax-cutting, so, if Capito ended up being the replacement for Robert Byrd, this could present problems for Obama getting his agenda pushed through.
What awaits the people of West Virginia is a mystery. Being that Robert Byrd died officially before July 3, though, one would have to posit that Governor Manchin will need to declare the seat vacant and have a November election. Game-on for challengers in this upcoming battle. For right now, though, we all remember Senator Byrd fondly and mourn for his family and his passing.