CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin confirmed Tuesday he will run for the U.S. Senate to fill the late Robert C. Byrd's unexpired term.
Manchin's announcement ended speculation on whether the popular Democratic governor would swap the 26 months that would remain in his second term for a chance to serve a similar amount of time left in Byrd's term.
The national profile of the 62-year-old Manchin has steadily increased since the former state lawmaker captured the governor's office in 2004 after a term as secretary of state. News audiences around the country saw him comfort victim's families and rally for improved safety and rescue measures following West Virginia coal mining disasters in 2006 and again this year at the Upper Big Branch mine.
"If I am so fortunate and honored to have the support of the people of West Virginia, I can't fill his shoes,'' Manchin said of Byrd. "I can only hope to follow his footsteps and serve the people of West Virginia as best I can.''
. . . Manchin briefed his cabinet and staff during a closed-door meeting in advance of his morning announcement.
Manchin has won praise from such groups as the Cato Institute for his conservative approach to state finances and his push for gradual tax cuts benefiting both businesses and consumers.
West Virginia has so far avoided the painful state layoffs, tax hikes and reduced government services suffered in many other states amid the recession and recovery.
Manchin carried all 55 counties in 2008 when he was elected to a second term as governor, winning nearly 70 percent of the vote.