Manchin 'Highly Likely' To Run For Senate

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West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin speaks to the media during a press conference on April 8, 2010 in Montcoal, West Virginia.

The West Virginia governor says he'll probably run for seat left vacant by the death of Robert Byrd.

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin says he'll make a decision next week on whether to run for the late Robert C. Byrd's Senate seat.

And he says "it's highly likely I will."

His comments to The Associated Press at the National Governors Association meeting come a day after West Virginia's top lawyer cleared the way for the governor to declare a special election this fall to fill what remains of Byrd's term.

Manchin sought the legal opinion after joining a growing push to hold a vote earlier than 2012, when Byrd would have faced re-election.

The 92-year-old Byrd died last week after more than a half-century in the Senate. He had just over 30 months left in his term.

Manchin, as was Byrd, is a Democrat. At present: There are 41 Republicans in the Senate; 2 independents who caucus with the Democratic Party; and 56 Democrats. NPR Political Editor Ken Rudin says Democrats this year will likely lose at least three Senate seats. He puts 11 Senate races into the "tossup" category. Copyright 2010 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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