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Joe Manchin, John Raese win West Virginia senate primaries

August 28, 2010 |  6:23 pm


Two months after the Senate’s longest-serving member, Robert Byrd, passed away at 92,  West Virginia Democrats have decided on their choice to seek his seat.

Gov. Joe Manchin, two-term governor and scion of a powerful political dynasty, on Saturday  beat Ken Hechler, former West Virginia secretary of state, and Sheirl Fletcher, former state House of Delegates member, in a widely-expected primary landslide, winning 73% of the votes.

In November he’ll face businessman John Raese, who won the GOP primary in a similar landslide,  and Mountain Party candidate Jesse Johnson for the prize of sitting in the U.S. Senate for the two-year remainder of Byrd’s six-year term.

The seat will be contested in 2012, when the president’s “coat-tails” will likely be an even bigger factor than in today’s fractious political climate.

Despite electing a Democratic governor and two Democratic senators –- Sen. Jay Rockefeller alongside ...

... Byrd -- West Virginia went for John McCain in the 2008 presidential election, backing the Arizona senator over now-President Obama by a 13-point margin. The state backed George W. Bush over John Kerry by a similar margin in 2004.

Gov. Manchin is a member of the National Rifle Assn. and is socially conservative on abortion issues. Following Byrd’s death, he had the right to appoint himself to the open seat but decided to contest the seat as a regular candidate.

[UPDATE]: In the Louisiana Senate primaries also Saturday, Sen. David Vitter won the GOP nomination while Rep. Charlie Melancon triumphed in the Democrat race.

-- Craig Howie

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Photo: John Raese, left, and Joe Manchin. Credits: Associated Press