CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Gov. Joe Manchin appointed his former chief counsel, Charleston lawyer Carte Goodwin, to temporarily fill the U.S. Senate seat of the late Robert C. Byrd on Friday.
Manchin, who made the announcement to an overflow crowd in the governor's reception room at the Capitol, called it significant that Goodwin, 36, will become the youngest member of the Senate, succeeding the longest-serving and oldest U.S. senator.
The governor said that while the Senate seat in some ways will always be thought of as Byrd's, "I think today we've honored him by choosing a worthy replacement."
Goodwin, a member of arguably the most prominent political family in West Virginia, worked as Manchin's chief lawyer during his first term as governor, but has never held political office.
However, Manchin said Goodwin's experience drafting legislation and working to get bills passed in the Legislature amounts to a wealth of experience.
"He's been more intimately involved in the process than anybody else I know," Manchin said of Goodwin's work as chief counsel. "I don't know anybody better qualified -- anybody."
Now-senior Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., was on hand for the announcement and welcomed Goodwin to the Senate, saying he looked forward to working with him.
"I can't tell you how proud I am professionally and personally that, in three or four days, Carte Goodwin and I are going to be colleagues," Rockefeller said.
Rockefeller said Goodwin will be sworn in as senator at 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday.
Immediately afterward, he will cast the decisive vote to restore a federally funded extension of unemployment benefits, Rockefeller said.
The previous extension of benefits from 26 weeks to 99 weeks expired on May 31, and with Byrd's absence, Senate Democrats lacked the 60th vote necessary to restore the extension.
During his comments, Rockefeller said he had an "inside source" to advise him of Goodwin's "absolute commitment to West Virginians."
Goodwin's wife, Rochelle, is director of Rockefeller's state office in Charleston.
Goodwin said Rockefeller's office has determined there is no conflict of interest for her to continue working for the senator. Also, he said his wife, who is due to deliver their second child early next month, will be on maternity leave for part of his roughly four-month tenure in the Senate.