"The governor is clearly a very independent voice on energy issues," Scarbro said.
He said of the Republicans' efforts to paint Manchin as a liberal Democrat, "It's a flawed strategy."
Scarbro added, "If they're spending their money to try to convince Joe Manchin not to run for the office, God bless them."
To date, no Republicans have announced they are running for the unexpired term.
McKinney said the party's obvious first choice would be U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito. If she decides to remain in the House of Representatives, he said the party "will support her 100 percent in that."
There are also legal questions in state election law as to whether Capito could withdraw as a congressional candidate in order to run for the Senate seat.
Morgantown businessman John Raese, who has twice run unsuccessfully for the Senate, has also been mentioned as a possible candidate.
McKinney said there is a third person who is likely to file for the office. He declined to identify the would-be candidate, except to say the person has run for statewide office previously, and has the ability to raise substantial campaign funds.
McKinney said he believes the Republican Party has an unprecedented opportunity to win a special election for Byrd's Senate seat this fall.
"The electoral climate will never be better than it is now to elect a Republican to the Senate," he said.
Manchin has called a special session of the Legislature to begin at noon Thursday to revise state senatorial succession law, to permit a Nov. 2 special election for the unexpired Senate term.
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.