CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce is calling on Gov. Joe Manchin and state lawmakers to call a special election this fall to fill the unexpired term of U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd.
In a news release, the Chamber said the state law for filling the vacancy is "muddled, and imprecise." Lawyers with Secretary of State Natalie Tennant's office have said the law allows Manchin to appoint someone to serve as interim senator until 2012. The state Attorney General's Office also is reviewing the law.
"The people of West Virginia deserve the opportunity to select the person who will represent them in the U.S. Senate," said Steve Roberts, Chamber president. "I truly believe Sen. Byrd would want to voters to decide who their next U.S. senator will be."
The Chamber urged the governor to place the issue on the agenda of a special legislative session later this month. Roberts said the Legislature should set a date for the special election and clarify the replacement process.
"Instead of devoting time and energy to finding a placeholder, let's select our next United States senator by a vote of the people," Roberts said.
Manchin has said he'll begin to consider appointees Wednesday.
West Virginian's Republican Party has also called on Democratic legislature leaders asking for a special election to elect a successor.