Shira Toeplitz at Politico writes today that WVa Republicans may try to change state law to require a special election this fall to fill Byrd's Senate seat (instead of 2012, as is currently planned by elections officials). Failing that, a court challenge could be the next route:
West Virginia lawmakers are mulling over moving the 2012 special election for the seat of the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) to November 2010, a change that would unsettle the state’s election landscape and complicate Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin’s presumed plans to run for the seat.
The effort follows Secretary of State Natalie Tennant’s announcement Monday that the Senate special election would be held in November 2012, with Manchin appointing a temporary senator to serve in the interim. But lawmakers in both parties have complained that 2½ years is too long for an appointed senator to serve.
. . . Meanwhile, West Virginia Republicans are making preparations to take legal action — and have drafted a letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) asking for his support if the case were to go to higher courts — to try to move up the election to 2010, when the party would have a better shot at winning an open Senate seat.
The simplest route for lawmakers looking to move up the election is to bring up the state vacancy law in a special legislative session. West Virginia officials from both parties are openly considering this plan of action, but only Manchin has the authority to decide whether revising the vacancy law will be part of the special session — a move that he seems unlikely to make at this point.