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Manchin's statement on Byrd's passing:Gov. Joe Manchin is said to want the seat himself, and would start out as a front-runner even in a state that has been trending more Republican. Manchin has ruled out appointing himself to the seat -- meaning that if he did want the seat, he would presumably appoint a placeholder who would not run in the next election, whenever it may be.
Of the state Democrats that Manchin could conceivably appoint for the "placeholder" position, several names have emerged:Gayle and I are deeply saddened by the passing of our dear friend and great senior Sen. Robert C. Byrd.
Like all West Virginians, the news broke our hearts. Sen. Byrd was a fearless fighter for the Constitution, his beloved state and its great people.
He made a significant mark as a member of Congress in both our state's and nation's history. His accomplishments and contributions will define history for eternity.
Our hearts and prayers go out to his daughters, friends and loved ones, his committed staff and to the people of West Virginia; we have suffered a terrible loss.
Even during Puccio's brief return to the private sector, it was clear his heart was still in public service. As he observed on his way out the state capitol door: "While I will not be in a paid or full-time position as chief of staff, I will continue to be available for the governor and staff on an unpaid, volunteer basis as the governor finishes his term and in his future endeavors."As the Great Recession hit the state in 2008 and continues to this day, [Manchin and Puccio's] dedication to fiscal conservatism has enabled our state to avoid massive layoffs in state government, the curtailment of services and increased taxes -- problems which plaque most of the 50 states. Instead, West Virginia was one of only five states to end FY2009 with a surplus.
Still, others doubt that Capito would bite, as she may be after the governor's seat herself. Capito's statement today addressing Byrd's death:She is the highest-ranking GOPer in the state (All 6 statewide officials are Dems), and she's won repeatedly in the Second District, reaching from Charleston and the OH border to exurban MD and VA, even though Dems have targeted her for defeat. Byrd himself cut an ad for Capito's '08 Dem challenger, former Byrd aide Anne Barth (D). Capito won by a 57%-43% margin, better than Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) margin in the district.
The United States Senate has lost an icon, and the people of West Virginia a beloved son who was woven into the very fabric of our state.
Senator Byrd's mastery of the Senate will be remembered for the ages, but those who knew him best realize his legacy will be one of love for the West Virginians he served for nearly 57 years. Whether he is remembered as the young man who played the fiddle or the elder statesman that carried a copy of the Constitution in the pocket next to his heart, Robert Byrd touched the lives of countless West Virginians. His service to West Virginia and dedication to our nation's democracy set an example to which generations can aspire.
We pray for his family and take comfort in knowing he has gone home for the last time to join his beloved Erma in the presence of God.
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