(CNN) -- West Virginia Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin and Republican businessman John Raese ran to easy victories Saturday in a special West Virginia primary for the U.S. Senate.
They will compete this fall to replace the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd, who died in late June.
On the Democratic side, numbers from the Associated Press showed Manchin holding a 73% to 17% lead over 95-year-old Ken Hechler in the primary, with more than 70 percent of precincts counted. Hechler was a four-term secretary of state and represented West Virginia in the U.S. House from 1959 to 1977.
Manchin spoke to reporters in Charleston shortly after the race was projected, telling them, "I don't think anyone can replace Robert C. Byrd, nor should they try." But he said he would try to follow in Byrd's footsteps if he won in November, calling that a "tough task right there."
Raese scored an overwhelming win over nine other Republicans. The Associated Press projected him the winner, winning 71 percent of the vote, with 70 percent of precincts reporting. He is the president and chief executive officer of Greer Industries, which includes steel and mining operations.
He ran and lost to Byrd in the 2006 Senate race in West Virginia. Raese previously ran for governor and narrowly lost to Sen. Jay Rockefeller in 1984.