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“Will Gov. Manchin have a pro-coal litmus test for Sen. Robert C. Byrd’s temporary replacement?” Ken Ward Jr. asks in Coal Tattoo. So far, the West Virginia governor, Joe Manchin, has had little to say about who will replace Sen. Robert Byrd.

“The governor is not even thinking about an appointment right now,” said a spokesperson. “That is the furthest thing from his mind at this time. His focus is on honoring the senator and his contributions.”

But, Ward reminds us, Byrd and Manchin didn’t agree about climate change, mountaintop removal or the future of the coal industry. On all these issues, Byrd had moved to a more environmentalist position over the years. The president of the West Virginia Coal Association said that “concern was mounting” over Byrd’s increasingly liberal positions. The coal boys are hoping that someone with “deep sensitivity” to the industry will replace Byrd. Gov. Manchin has said he won’t appoint himself to the open seat.

The Washington Post’s Paul Kane says there is some confusion in state law over when a special election will be held to fill Byrd’s seat. Manchin’s appointment could be subject to a general vote this November or as late at 2012.

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