On June 28, U.S. Senator Robert Byrd died. He had been first elected to that seat in 1958, and was 92 years old. West Virginia law says a special election must be held if the vacancy occurred more than two and one-half years before the end of the term. The next regular election for this seat would have been in 2012. Byrd died more than two and one-half years before end of his term. So, one would think there will be a special election in 2010 to fill the last two years of his seat.
On the other hand, there is no provision for a special election that occurs too late for a primary, and no provision for a special primary. West Virginia’s primary this year was May 11. See this Washington Post story.
The Washington Post story does not mention that the deadline for independent candidates, and for the nominees of unqualified parties, is August 1. In theory, candidates could get on the ballot for a special election by petition, if they act fairly quickly, but how this impacts on the state’s decision on whether to hold a special election is undetermined. UPDATE: the deadline is July 30, not August 1. Thanks to Jeff Becker for that correction.