Legislators are expected to complete work in special session Saturday on a bill that would provide for a special election for the Senate seat on Nov. 2.
The Gazette first reported Wednesday that Goodwin had emerged as the front-runner for the temporary appointment, from a short list that included former state Democratic Party Chairman Nick Casey and former Gov. Gaston Caperton.
Manchin confirmed Friday that he had long had Casey in mind as Byrd's replacement, but said Casey's pending nomination as a federal judge made that impossible.
"It's something I could not ask my best friend to do, to give up a lifetime appointment to the bench," Manchin said.
In accepting the appointment, Goodwin said, "I will have no agenda other than to work and fight hard every day for the people of West Virginia."
Goodwin said he is grateful for the support of his family, and said he is confident that his father, who died in April, will be looking down at him.
Asked about being a member of the politically prominent family, Goodwin said he does not believe there is such a thing as an elite family in West Virginia.
Goodwin's father, Steve, who died in April, had chaired West Virginia University's board of governors.
Goodwin's uncle, Joseph R. Goodwin, is the chief federal judge in Southern West Virginia. His aunt, Kay Goodwin, is head of the state Department of Education and the Arts. His cousin, Booth Goodwin, is U.S. Attorney for the state's Southern District.
A native of Mount Alto, Jackson County, Goodwin has a bachelor's degree from Marietta College and a law degree from Emory University. He and his wife have one son, Wesley.
Political reaction to Goodwin's appointment broke down largely along party lines. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said she would work with Goodwin, but lamented the politics involving in choosing Byrd's successor.
"It is apparent that many elected officials, and particularly the person ultimately charged with calling a special election, have been more focused on political maneuvers to further their own political ambitions before fulfilling the obligations of their office on behalf of the people they were elected to serve," said Capito, whom many political observers believe will seek the Senate seat, either this year or in 2012.
Democrats, including President Obama and U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., support the move. Obama called Goodwin an excellent choice as Byrd's successor and said he would ensure that West Virginians' voices "are heard in Washington now until they can be heard at the polls in November."
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.