WHEELING - It will be a "separate" and "concurrent" special election for West Virginia's vacant U.S. Senate seat on Nov. 2.
Those words are contained in legislation passed Monday night by the West Virginia Legislature, and they permit current U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. - who is seeking re-election on the regular Nov. 2 general election ballot - to also seek the U.S. Senate seat the same day.
The privilege also applies to any other candidate on the general election ballot who wishes a run for the Senate. And Gov. Joe Manchin, who is term-limited in 2012, is expected to make his intentions known during a press conference scheduled for 10 a.m. today.
Lawmakers came to agreement late Monday and passed legislation allowing Manchin to set the dates for an election to the U.S. Senate seat held for 52 years by the late Robert C. Byrd.
The vote in the House was 83-7 in favor of the bill, with local delegates Mike Ferro, D-Marshall; Tim Ennis and Roy Givens, both D-Brooke; Orphy Klempa, D-Ohio; and Delegate Randy Swartzmiller, D-Hancock, voting in favor. Delegate Patrick McGeehan, R-Hancock, voted against the measure.
Neither delegates Tal Hutchins, D-Ohio, or Scott Varner, D-Marshall, cast a vote on the legislation.
The vote on the Senate side was 29-0 in favor of the legislation.
Following the signing of the bill just after 9 p.m. Monday, Manchin issued a proclamation scheduling Nov. 2 as the day for the general special election, and Aug. 28 as the date for a special primary.
Filing for the primary election is from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. today through Friday, announced West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant.
The cost to run is $1,740 - or 1 percent of the annual $174,000 salary for a U.S. senator.
Manchin had been set to announce the dates for election without the backing of legislative law after the House and Senate had failed to agree on the elections bill this weekend, but a House-Senate conference committee worked to iron out differences.
Democrats gave in to Republican requests that the special election be considered a separate election from the regular general election happening on Nov. 2.
Republicans believe Capito could be the party's best bet to defeat Manchin in a potential matchup for the senate seat. She indicated last week she would make her decision on a possible Senate campaign after the Legislature had formulated its changes in the election law.
"That was the sticking point," said Delegate Orphy Klempa, D-Ohio. "They were looking out for Shelley Moore Capito, and they were holding that effective date hostage."
State Sen. Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said allowing candidates to file for two elections concurrently was "for this time, and this time only."