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Sen. Carte Goodwin (D-Caretaker-W.Va.)

By selecting former aide Carte Goodwin to replace the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D), West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) guaranteed three things. Mind you, these are not in order of importance. Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) is no longer the only eye candy in the chamber. An extension of unemployment benefits will be approved with Goodwin's expected 60th vote after he's sworn in Tuesday. And Manchin will have a clear field to run for the seat in the special election later this year. Having already declared that he won't run on that ballot, Goodwin is the ultimate caretaker.

Goodwin was Manchin's counsel for five years. His familial connections make Goodwin, 36, a total West Virginia insider. Thus, the Mountain State will go from being represented by the oldest senator to being looked after by the youngest senator without losing too much in political know-how.

But some wise interpretation of the state's confusing election law gave Manchin the authority to call for a special election, which is expected to be this November, while maintaining his power to appoint an successor for the Senate seat. Not ideal, but the Constitution doesn't make provisions for filing Senate vacancies. That's why in the last two years we have seen five governors replace departing senators with varying degrees of selfishness or political calculation. Some fine. Some opaque. And others, gross abuses of power -- allegedly.

It's no secret that Manchin wants to run for the job. And, you know what? The well-regarded governor just might win. If he is successful, at least he will have won the seat at the behest of West Virginia voters and relatively soon after the vacancy became available.

By Jonathan Capehart  | July 16, 2010; 5:52 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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It's one thing to be "good looking," but another to a former professional model with a nude centerfold in Cosmo.

Ultimate placeholder? Are you forgetting Ted Kaufman? EVERYBODY knew he was a caretaker for Beau Biden was he was appointment. Gov. Minner even mentioned Beau Biden and what a great Senator he'd be in the press conference for Ted Kaufman.

I don't mind appointed Senators. I think the press likes elections since they're an easier story as much as it about "the people's voice." Statewide senate seats aren't the same as House seats plus show me a statewide office that has a special election? Treasurer, Attorney General, Governor? Nope. It's a lot of money for low voter turn-out and just "makes us feel good." Plus voter know they vote for Governor that he/she has appointment power.

Posted by: Corey_NY | July 16, 2010 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Very impressive to be a Senator at only 36.

Posted by: TylerHealey | July 19, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Just speculating: Goodwin says that he won't run for the seat he's holding now. But perhaps this will give him more visibility if he wants to run for Governor in WV in 2012, or to run for Jay Rockefeller's seat if Rockefeller retires in 2014.

Posted by: lkusmin | July 20, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

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