Eight Republicans on Thursday entered the race for the U.S. Senate seat held by the late Robert C. Byrd, joining a field where West Virginia's popular Democratic governor is seen as the front-runner.
John Raese, an industrialist and media owner, and recent U.S. House candidate Mac Warner are the best known among the GOP hopefuls. Gov. Joe Manchin and two other Democrats filed their paperwork earlier this week.
The Republicans filing Thursday include a substitute teacher's aide also running for the state Legislature, and a California man who attracted 44 votes in the party's 2008 New Hampshire presidential primary.
The parties will hold Aug. 28 primaries before the Nov. 2 general election. The candidate filing period ends Friday. U.S. Senate candidates must be residents of the state they wish to serve by Election Day.
November's winner will serve the two-plus years that would remain in Byrd's term and take over from Sen. Carte Goodwin, Manchin's Democratic appointee to the seat. Goodwin, 36, was sworn in Tuesday and has said he does not plan to run.
Manchin, a centrist who won his second term with nearly 70 percent of the vote, was the first candidate to file on Tuesday and is generally seen as the front-runner. But he must first prevail against primary rivals Ken Hechler, 95, a former congressman and secretary of state, and ex-Republican state lawmaker Sheirl Fletcher.
The GOP's Raese has unsuccessfully waged three prior statewide campaigns, including two for the Senate. The 60-year-old's wealth could aid his candidacy given the special election's shortened timeframe. He pumped $2.2 million of his own money into his failed 2006 Senate bid, his most recent.
Warner, a developer, lost the May Republican primary in the 1st Congressional District. Morgantown-based like Raese, Warner hails from a political family that includes brothers who have been state GOP chairman, the party's 2004 nominee for governor and U.S. attorney for southern West Virginia. Warner's House campaign had received backing from tea party supporters.
Among the other Republican candidates, Albert Howard of San Pedro, Calif., demanded a recount after his 12th-place, 2008 showing in New Hampshire. Lynette Kennedy McQuain, meanwhile, is already a GOP nominee for the House of Delegates in Marion County.
The legislation setting the special election process for Byrd's seat allows for such dual candidacies. State GOP lawmakers secured that provision so Rep. Shelley Moore Capito could seek Byrd's seat while she also campaigned for a sixth U.S. House term. Considered the Republican's top prospect for the Senate race, she decided against running on Wednesday.
Republicans Thomas Ressler of Falling Waters, Kenneth A. Culp of Summersville and Buckhannon residents Scott H. Williams and Daniel Scott Rebich also filed Thursday.
Byrd was history's longest-serving member of Congress when he died last month at 92.