VIENNA - Carte P. Goodwin said his few months in the U.S. Senate were some of the most memorable in his life.
The man who immediately took over the U.S. Senate seat once held by Robert C. Byrd was the keynote speaker Wednesday at the Polymer Alliance Zone's annual meeting held at the Parkersburg Country Club. The PAZ was commemorating its 15th anniversary.
Goodwin was appointed to the seat by Gov. Joe Manchin on July 16, 2010 to fill the vacancy created by Byrd's death in June. Goodwin, who had served as Manchin's general counsel, took the oath of office on July 20, 2010 and served until Nov. 15, when Manchin was sworn in after winning a special election for the seat.
Former U.S. Sen. Carte P. Goodwin was the keynote speaker at the Polymer Alliance Zone’s annual meet
Goodwin joked about his short service in the U.S. Senate, saying rather than thinking he served only about four months, he would rather say that he and Byrd had a combined service of more than 50 years.
Goodwin commended Byrd for his service and all he was able to accomplish for the state.
''He was a man who, by any objective measure, was a giant who served at the highest levels of our government,'' he said. ''I had no illusions about replacing Senator Byrd in my brief time there. What I tried to do was emulate his work ethic.''
Former U.S. Sen. Carte P. Goodwin was the keynote speaker at the Polymer Alliance Zone’s annual meeting held at the Parkersburg Country Club Wednesday. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)
Goodwin talked about the sudden media attention thrust upon him when his Senate appointment was announced.
For a short time, Goodwin's name was one of the most looked up items on the Internet, his college buddies set up an online poll to rank his looks against his soon-to-be colleagues, and a Charleston newspaper called his appointment "a letdown," he noted.
''It was quite an adjustment,'' Goodwin said.
Once his picture was being shown on the major news networks, his wife, Rochelle, told him the fact he cuts his own hair was becoming evident.
'''With all the different camera angles you can see all the spots you missed,''' Goodwin quoted his wife as saying at the time with a big smile.
About 20 minutes after he was sworn in, Goodwin had given the Democrats the 60-member super majority. He voted to end discussion on legislation to extend unemployment benefits after Republicans were trying to filibuster. The bill passed 60-40 along party lines.
''It was quickly established that I would be casting the deciding vote,'' Goodwin said. ''There were thousands of West Virginians and millions more Americans needing these benefits.''
However, he was facing a more pressing concern. He wasn't sure how to vote.
Goodwin said he made up his mind on what he wanted to do, but he didn't know how to physically cast a vote on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
''I already decided how I was going to cast my vote,'' he said. ''I just wasn't sure how to mechanically do it.''
He decided to watch to see how the other senators did it. In the West Virginia Legislature, legislators have easy buttons for 'yes' and 'no.'
''No such luck here (in the U.S. Senate),'' he said. ''There were no discernible buttons.''
Goodwin said he watched the other senators do a series of head shakes, hand signals and other signs that rivaled anything in professional baseball. The clerk was able to keep track of these and tell how each one voted.
''Not to have any problems, I went to the clerk and told her specifically how I voted so it would go smoothly,'' Goodwin said.
He said the clerk read his vote aloud and a gathering of West Virginia supporters in the gallery let out a big cheer, so loud that officials had to call for a restoration of order.
''I have so many more memories,'' Goodwin said of the birth of his daughter Anna and being able to cast an "yea" vote for Elena Kagan to be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
''It was and will always be my privilege to represent you,'' Goodwin told those gathered at the meeting.