West Virginia Democratic Governor Joe Manchin announced his candidacy Tuesday to fill the Senate seat of the late Robert Byrd, who died last month in the midst of his ninth term in Washington. The special election to replace Byrd will be held in November. Manchin appointed his former general counsel, Carte Goodwin, to fill Byrd's seat in the interim. Manchin became a semi-national figure during the Upper Big Branch mine disaster earlier this year. Here's what people are saying about the announcement and Manchin's chances of pulling off a win:

  • Hardly A Surprise  Manchin's announcement was widely anticipated by political observers. "It wasn't exactly a surprise announcement," noted West Virginia political reporter Joselyn King in the Wheeling News-Register.

  • A Procedural Hurdle  West Virginia Republicans forced Manchin to sign legislation changing the state's election laws before they would approve a November special election. Explains Shira Toeplitz of Politico:

"The law allows Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) — Republicans’ best hope for the seat — to run for both her Senate seat and her House seat in November. State code does not allow a candidate to run for two offices in the same election, and House Republicans held out their support for the special election legislation until it clarified that a candidate could run for the special election and in the general election on Nov. 2."

  • Smooth Sailing  Unfortunately for Republicans, Capito announced Wednesday afternoon she would not be a candidate for Byrd's seat. The surprise decision from the state's most prominent Republican appears to clear Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin's way to Washington," observed Ry Rivard of the Charleston Daily Mail.

  • Strong National Support  National Democrats have rushed to praise Manchin. Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey--who also heads the Democratic Senatorial Steering Committee--issued an endorsement Tuesday (via Robert Schroeder of Marketwatch):

“No one will ever be able to fill Robert Byrd’s shoes as his irreplaceable leadership will be missed in Congress and in West Virginia. But Joe Manchin is someone who everyday makes West Virginians proud. Since he has been governor, hundreds of companies have located or expanded in West Virginia, with billions of dollars in new business investment. Under Manchin’s leadership, West Virginia has been praised for fiscal conservatism, all while he has cut taxes for West Virginia business and families. Joe Manchin has a record of job-creation and fiscal responsibility and will continue to be a strong independent voice for West Virginia in the U.S. Senate.”