Reporting from Washington — Democrats Chris Coons and Joe Manchin III were sworn in as the newest United States senators Monday afternoon, taking their seats in Congress' lame duck session less than two weeks after they were elected.
Both men replace senators appointed to fill vacancies that occurred during the 111th Congress.
Coons, of Delaware, was sworn in by the man whose unexpired term he will complete — Vice President Joe Biden. Coons defeated tea party favorite Christine O'Donnell in a race that became a political spectacle following her upset win in the September GOP primary. Ted Kaufman served as Biden's replacement.
Manchin, who resigned as West Virginia's governor earlier Monday, is taking the seat once held for more than 51 years by the late Robert C. Byrd. Manchin had appointed Carte Goodwin, his former legal counsel, as Byrd's temporary replacement in July, before announcing his own candidacy as a permanent replacement. He defeated John Raese on Nov. 2, beating back the Republican's claims he would be a "rubber stamp" for President Obama's agenda in the new Congress.
A third senator-elect, Illinois Republican Mark Kirk, will not be sworn in until later this month. The state Board of Elections explained that the delay in seating him is due to Illinois' requirement that that certification of the vote be delayed by two weeks to account for military absentee ballots.