West Virginia's Secretary of State, Natalie Tennant, has made a ruling: the special election to replace Sen. Robert Byrd won't take place until 2012.
I would have preferred to have allowed a little longer grieving and mourning period before the question of who would replace him and how it would be done were asked. Out of respect for Senator Byrd, and his many accomplishments and wonderful service to this state, I wanted this office to mourn his loss and give West Virginians time to pay tribute. He is owed that much.
"But I have a duty and that duty is to oversee and lay out the process that will take place according to West Virginia State Code.
"The State Code is an interesting document. Within Chapter 3 that focuses on elections, there are several sections that determine how vacancies are filled.
"Section 3-10-3 states that for terms with more than two years and six months remaining, such as this one with Senator Byrd, the Governor will appoint a replacement who serves the unexpired term until a successor has been elected.
"But that election will not be the 2010 General election. Part of this same section of code, requires the candidate to have filed during the filing period. That filing period has already passed. There was a legal case in 1994 decided by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals that up held that position of requiring candidates to file during the filing period.
"That means the election for the unexpired term would be the next election cycle which would take place in 2012. Candidates will be nominated in the primary and elected in the general of 2012.