Senator Robert Byrd Passes Away

United States Senator Robert Byrd (D – WV) has passed away at age 92.

The family of U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., tearfully announces the passing of the longest serving member of Congress in U.S. history.  He was 92.

Byrd died peacefully at approximately 3 a.m. at Inova Fairfax Hospital.

Further details will be made available as soon as possible.


Byrd’s current term expires on January 3, 2013. Under West Virginia state law on handling Senate vacancies, “if the vacancy occurs less than two years and six months before the end of the term, the Governor appoints someone to fill the unexpired term and there is no election”. Otherwise, Manchin would appoint an interim replacement, and an special election would be held in November to determine who held the seat in 2011 and 2012.

Here’s how it will (should) unfold:

1) West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin (D) will appoint an interim Senator.

2) In November, there will be s “special election” that coincides with the regular election, to fill the final 2 years of the current term.  

3) In 2012 there will be a regular election for the next full 6 year term.

If Sen. Byrd had passed away just a week later, there would be no special election.



The Washington Post discusses some complications in the West Virginia law, and potential candidates.

In 2006, Republicans tried to recruit Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R), the daughter of former governor Arch Moore, to challenge Byrd. She passed on the race but has been considered a potential statewide candidate ever since.

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