West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (D), who announced earlier this year that there would not be a special election this year to fill the seat of the late Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd, is now calling upon the governor and legislature to change the law to do just that.
Tennant announced earlier this week that there would not be an election, but instead a gubernatorial appointment to last through November 2012 -- at which time there would be two elections, one being for the next regular term and the other for the remaining roughly five weeks of the current term. This result, which struck many people as quite odd, was in fact the product of the state's very confusing statute on the subject, and indeed it had a binding precedent from the 1990s.
"I understand that people can believe that the Legislature did not intend such a lengthy delay when the process was changed in 1990. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court interpreted the Legislature's intent in 1994 and the Court's decision controls the law until either the Court makes a new ruling or the law is amended by the Legislature," Tennant said in a press release. She also added: "I do not have the authority to make the law into whatever I personally prefer it to be. Therefore, I request that the Governor call a special session to address the state's succession law, not only as it relates to a U.S. Senate vacancy but a Gubernatorial one as well."