CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Popular West Virginia Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin easily won his party's nomination and will face Republican primary winner John Raese in the race for the U.S. Senate seat held by the late Robert C. Byrd.
Raese, a wealthy businessman, defeated a crowded field of GOP candidates. He now becomes key to the GOP's quest to dismantle the Democratic Senate majority. Democrats are clinging to the majority as high unemployment and the slow economic recovery take a toll on their political prospects this fall.
The 60-year-old Raese lost to Byrd in 2006.
Saturday's primary came two months after Byrd, the Senate's longest-serving member, died at the age of 92.
Mountain Party candidate Jesse Johnson is also vying for the seat in November.