Age Becomes an Issue in WV Senate Race

By: Scott Saxton
By: Scott Saxton

There hasn't been much public talk about the age of West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd (D). That is until now.

Tuesday, former West Virginia Governor Cecil Underwood (R) endorsed Byrd's opponent John Raese (R). Underwood said it's time for a new generation to lead. Byrd is 88 years old.

Underwood, 83, said he considered a run for governor in 2004. However, he says he wouldn't have been able to serve because he's been hampered with health problems since last Thanksgiving. Underwood told the crowd at Raese headquarters that unexpected health problems arise in older ages. We asked Underwood if he thinks Byrd would be able to physically handle another six year term.

"I'm not a doctor and I have not examined him. But the odds are against it," Underwood said.

Raese would not directly answer if he agreed with Underwood. Raese said he's not in that position.

Byrd spokesperson Mark Ferrell released a statement Tuesday.

"Byrd has been campaigning all over the state this month, and is
excited about being in Charleston this weekend with Sens. Rockefeller
and Obama, Reps. Rahall and Mollohan, and hundreds of good friends. He's fit, feisty and fully engaged in building for the future of West
Virginia. Senator Byrd is enjoying campaigning and he's doing exactly what he wants to be doing; working for West Virginians," Ferrell wrote.

Read more in-depth coverage of Underwood's endorsement plus the latest information from Decision 2006.
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