ON Saturday, Aug. 28, West Virginia Republican and Democratic parties will hold primary elections to choose nominees for the U.S. Senate seat long held by Robert C. Byrd.
West Virginians choose a new senator on General Election day, Nov. 2.
Will Senate Democrats retain the power to keep ramming far-reaching legislation through the Senate? Or will the American people stop them?
West Virginians could have an effect on that.
The winner of this state's Nov. 2 Senate vote will be seated immediately - and thus in a position either to help enable or block what the Senate is able to do before other new senators take their seats in January.
The Aug. 28 primaries are a rush job, but most people know the front-runners.
On the Democratic side, the best-known candidate is Gov. Joe Manchin, a centrist Democrat and a very able man who has been an excellent governor.
On the Republican side, the best-known contenders include John Raese, president and chief executive of Greer Industries, chairman of the board of West Virginia Radio Corp., founder of MetroNews Radio, and vice president of the Morgantown Dominion Post.
The other is Mac Warner, a West Point grad and lawyer who served in the Army from 1977 to 2000 doing prosecution, defense and international law. He has a son in Afghanistan, a daughter in graduate school, and a daughter at West Point.
Both are very able and articulate men who are strongly committed to changing the course of the country.
The airways will soon be filled with messages from front-runners of both parties.
But I'm hoping voters are as passionate about this opportunity as even the lesser-known Republican candidates are.
In their way, they are as powerfully affecting as the front-runners.