Who Is Senator Carte Goodwin?

Writers look into Robert Byrd's interim successor

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The Associated Press reports that West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin has chosen former chief counsel Carte Goodwin to temporarily occupy the late Senator Robery Byrd's seat until voters can elect a successor to serve the final two years of Byrd's term. Goodwin worked on Manchin's 2004 campaign for governor before becoming his chief lawyer; the AP contrasted Goodwin against Byrd, who was 92 and the longest serving senator at the time of his death, as "the youngest among those considered potential choices" and something of a political unknown. With expectations of a Goodwin run for the seat low, pundits are wondering exactly what Byrd's interim replacement is made of.

He is 36 years old and currently a practicing attorney in West Virginia. He served as Manchin's general counsel from 2005-2009. He's thought to be a trusted associate of Manchin, and has known the governor since 2004, when Goodwin worked as a volunteer in his campaign.

Goodwin is also a from a prominent West Virginia family -- his uncle is a federal judge, his cousin a U.S. attorney, and his father (who recently died) had chaired the West Virginia university board of governors. Also, Goodwin's wife, Rochelle, is the state director for soon-to-be colleague -- Sen. Jay Rockefeller
  • A Needed Political Tool Steve Benen notes that, with Goodwin's election, the Senate Democratic caucus will once again boast 59 members. "His presence will probably be put to good use fairly quickly -- the leadership wants the Senate to vote on Tuesday on an extension of unemployment benefits, and Goodwin's vote will likely be necessary to overcome a Republican filibuster.
  • A Potential Political Liability? The Washington Independent's Jimm Phillips floats the possibility of some voting trouble once Goodwin hits Washington. "Goodwin is more politically conservative than the average national Democrat — most members of the West Virginia party are — and even former state Senate Minority Leader Vic Sprouse (R) described him in a 2007 column in The West Virginia Record as a 'business Democrat,'" writes Phillips, before quickly dismissing his own assertion. "Still, Manchin is unlikely to have picked someone who would not vote in favor of the Democrats’ economic legislation, especially given reports of the pressure Democratic leaders put on Manchin as he considered who to appoint."
  • A Booster For Manchin Chris Cillizza senses smart electoral math going into November. "Picking a close adviser should be taken as indication that Manchin does indeed intend to seek the seat in a special election, as he has strongly indicated. He will be the instant frontrunner, and Republicans will have to find a capable opponent. Their first choice is Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), who has expressed uncertainty about the race."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.