Get to Know Carte Goodwin, the Newest U.S. Senator From West Virginia

BY Quinn Bowman  July 16, 2010 at 3:17 PM EST

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin announced Friday that he has appointed Carte Goodwin, his former chief counsel, to succeed the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd until the state holds a special election. Voters will then choose who will serve in the seat until 2012, when Byrd’s term expires.

Goodwin, a 36-year-old Democrat from a prominent Mountain State family, will restore his party’s advantage in the Senate to 59 seats over the Republicans’ 41. Goodwin, who is expected to take the oath of office on Tuesday, may be needed to cast a crucial vote on extended unemployment benefits next week.

The state Legislature has started a special session to consider a proposal from Manchin, who has said he would be interested in running for the seat, to allow for a vote during the November general election.

Byrd was the longest-serving senator in history when he died in June at 92. Goodwin, who will be the youngest current U.S. senator, worked on Manchin’s 2004 gubernatorial campaign then served as his general counsel until early 2009 when he left for his family’s law firm.

To better understand Goodwin, the politics behind his appointment and who might run in a special election, we spoke with Charleston, W.Va.-based Associated Press staff writer Lawrence Messina.

Hear our full conversation here: