The Washington Post‘s Chris Cillizza reports that, in the aftermath of Sen. Robert Byrd’s death, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant announced the replacement appointed by governor Joe Manchin will serve until after the 2012 election. The statute in question (§3-10-3) reads (emphasis added):
Any vacancy occurring in the office of secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, attorney general, commissioner of agriculture, United States senator, judge of the supreme court of appeals or in any office created or made elective to be filled by the voters of the entire state, judge of a circuit court or judge of a family court is filled by the governor of the state by appointment. If the unexpired term of a judge of the supreme court of appeals, a judge of the circuit court or judge of a family court is for less than two years or if the unexpired term of any other office named in this section is for a period of less than two years and six months, the appointment to fill the vacancy is for the unexpired term. If the unexpired term of any office is for a longer period than above specified, the appointment is until a successor to the office has timely filed a certificate of candidacy, has been nominated at the primary election next following such timely filing and has thereafter been elected and qualified to fill the unexpired term. Proclamation of any election to fill an unexpired term is made by the governor of the state and, in the case of an office to be filled by the voters of the entire state, must be published prior to the election as a Class II-0 legal advertisement in compliance with the provisions of article three, chapter fifty-nine of this code and the publication area for the publication is each county of the state. If the election is to fill a vacancy in the office of judge of a circuit court or judge of a family court, the proclamation must be published prior to the election as a Class II-0 legal advertisement in compliance with the provisions of article three, chapter fifty-nine of this code and the publication area for such publication is each county in the judicial or family court circuit.
The certificate-of-candidacy period was between January 11 and January 30. Further, there was a court case in 1994 (H/T – Hotline via Allahpundit) that affirms the certificate-of-candidacy requirement.
I suppose I should mention that all involved in the current situation are Democrats seeking to keep the seat in their hands at a time when the voting populace seems ready, willing and able to remove them from power. As Smitty said, “The good news in all this is that, since the ruling falls in favor of the Democratic Party, we’re spared endless breast-beating about the crushing of voter expression, Republican Party thugger in general, and Rascal Rove vitriol in particular.” One could only imagine what the presstitutes would have said if it were Republicans that were desperate to keep their virtual supermajority in the Senate.