CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - It will be a three-way race for the late Robert C. Byrd's U.S. Senate seat in November as voters decided to pit Democrat Gov. Joe Manchin against Republican John Raese and Mountain Party's Jesse Johnson.


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - It will be a three-way race for the late Robert C. Byrd's U.S. Senate seat in November as voters decided to pit Democrat Gov. Joe Manchin against Republican John Raese and Mountain Party's Jesse Johnson.

The three will appear on the Nov. 2 general election ballot following light voter turnout for the special primary prompted by Byrd's death two months prior.

Mineral County voters kept in line with the rest of the state; giving their votes of confidence to Manchin, Raese and Johnson. With 919 Democrat ballots and 919 Republican ballots cast, it took Mineral County election officials only until just before 10 p.m. to finish counting.

The passing of the 92-year-old Sen. Byrd, a Democrat, put his seat in play as his party seeks to keep its majority in an election year that appears increasingly favorable to Republicans. November's winner will take over from Sen. Carte Goodwin, a former top Manchin aide and Democrat appointed by the governor for the interim.

Saturday's results mark the seventh straight statewide electoral victory for Manchin, who turned 63 on Tuesday. After a term as secretary of state, he was elected governor in 2004. He won re-election with a record-high margin for that office, nearly 70 percent. The state constitution bars him from seeking a third consecutive term.

Manchin bested Sheirl Fletcher, a former state lawmaker from Monongalia County, and 95-year-old Ken Hechler. A former congressman and secretary of state, Hechler launched his candidacy for voters to register their opposition to the mountaintop removal method of surface mining. The governor said the difference was his record of trying to unite people to find ways to improve the state. He said his campaign over the next couple of months will stress that the country needs to be made strong again and put on the right track.

'I'm running for the U.S. Senate to represent all the people," Manchin said. "It's going to be a sprint now and we're prepared. Manchin had 73 percent of the vote with 87 percent of 1,881 precincts reporting. Johnson ran unopposed in the primary for the Mountain Party, which also targets mountaintop removal. But Raese emerged from a pack of 10 GOP hopefuls that also included a real estate developer, a cement contractor and a few retirees.

Raese had 71 percent of the vote with 87 percent of 1,881 precincts reporting. The steel, stone and media owner spent at least a half-million dollars of his own funds into his latest effort. He said Saturday that he considered his name recognition and ability to get out his message key to his victory. 'If they don't know ya, they don't vote for ya," Raese said. Raese ran against Byrd in 2006 and won about a third of the vote, but noted that this marks his fourth statewide campaign.

For more detailed results from Mineral County, watch Monday's Mineral Daily News Tribune.