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Another Biden in the Senate?

It has long been assumed in the Delaware political world that Sen. Joe Biden (D) wanted his son, Beau Biden, to succeed him in the Senate. The speculation increased when the younger Biden was elected state attorney general in 2006, giving him an attractive resume; and some needed experience for a potential Senate campaign or appointment.

Beau Biden has been in that post for less than two years, and the dominoes are starting to fall. As you may have heard via text message, Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee for vice president. Biden is up for reelection this year to the Senate, but Delaware law allows him to run for both offices at the same time. It is possible that he will now quit the Senate, or at least leave his reelection race, to focus on the presidential race, but there's no indication yet that he will do so, especially with Congress only scheduled to be in session a few more weeks this year. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in 2004 and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) in 2000 both stayed in the chamber as they ran on the presidential ticket, and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) don't appear likely to leave their day jobs, either.

If the Obama-Biden ticket loses, Joe Biden will simply return to the Senate next year and the chairmanship of the Foreign Relations panel, his life that much richer for the experience. But if Democrats win the White House, Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner (D) will appoint a replacement to the Senate, who will serve for two years until an election in November 2010.

Outside events have intervened in the Biden family succession plan: Beau Biden, a captain and JAG corps lawyer in the Army National Guard, is being shipped to Iraq in October. His deployment will last "about a year," according to the Wilmington News Journal.

There's no obvious way for Beau Biden to get out of or shorten this deployment, nor is there any reason to think he wants to try. That leaves two obvious potential scenarios:

1) Minner appoints another Democrat, who runs for the seat in 2010, and Beau Biden simply has to forego a Senate run, or at least wait awhile for another chance (he's only 39).

2) More intriguingly, Minner could appoint a caretaker to the seat -- a respected Democrat who has no desire to run in 2010, and then Beau Biden could swoop in, fresh from the battle front, and enter the campaign.

Regardless of whom Minner appoints, it seems like a fair bet that Rep. Mike Castle, a popular moderate Republican, would at least consider a bid for the Senate in two years. Castle, an eight-term House member and former governor, would be a formidable candidate against any Democrat. There hasn't yet been a "Castle vs. Biden" race in Delaware, but if the son also rises, that might just be the ballot for the best Senate race of 2010.

By Ben Pershing  |  August 23, 2008; 3:32 PM ET
Categories:  2008 Campaign , Senate  
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Minner's term as Governor ends in January; she isn't running for reelection. Assuming the Democrats keep the seat, the new Governor could appoint Minner as the caretaker through the 2010 election.

Posted by: Dave | August 23, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Minner's term ends in January, that's correct -- after the election. Specifically, Minner's term ends on January 20 -- Inauguration Day. Presumably a VP-elect Biden would have the forethought to resign from the Senate by that point. So even though it would be the end of her term, she would still be the one doing the appointing if Biden resigns.

Posted by: de la ware | August 23, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Musical chairs in The First State! it! However, Congressman Castle's health is at best questionable. There is DE talk that this year's race for his House re-election will be his last.
So, in 2010 there is a good chance that one of the Senate seats and the only House seat will be up for reelection as well as that of the State's Attorney General.

Posted by: DC John | August 23, 2008 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Is there any legal reason Minner could not appoint Beau Biden to the Senate? My guess is that the Pentagon would find a way to release a sitting Senator from a JAG assignment. Whose going to object and whose going to run against a Senator that is serving with the armed services in a war zone in time of war? No need to have an interium appointment, just appoint Beau Biden to his father's seat.

Posted by: HarryR | August 23, 2008 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Mike Castle is a moderate...uhm. . Say what? Not according to his 95% pro-Bush voting record.

Posted by: Jason330 | August 23, 2008 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Is there any reason a sitting Senator couldn't be a deployed reservist?

Posted by: RealCalGal | August 23, 2008 6:11 PM | Report abuse

YEP. Another Biden in the Senate, but his dad has to win first!

Posted by: KYJurisDoctor | August 23, 2008 6:51 PM | Report abuse

How much prouder could Joe Biden be of his son? Who sounds like he has an excellent future based on a great resume. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than watching Joe Biden kick Alberto's sorry little sniveling @ss from one side of the hearing room to the other. Too bad he couldn't have used a 12 foot bull whip from his chair to teach little Alberto more respect for our constitution.

And it will be fun to watch Biden tell Cheney and all of his staff to "get out out my damn office building. Now!!"

Posted by: Humpty Dumpty | August 23, 2008 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: HarryR | August 23, 2008 5:53 PM "Is there any legal reason Minner could not appoint Beau Biden to the Senate? My guess is that the Pentagon would find a way to release a sitting Senator from a JAG assignment. Whose going to object and whose going to run against a Senator that is serving with the armed services in a war zone in time of war? No need to have an interium appointment, just appoint Beau Biden to his father's seat."

If this were to play out as you describe, Beau Biden would be accused of abandoning his post by every single future political opponent. That would never do. He also probably has strong personal convictions that would prevent him from pursuing any course of action that would shorten his tour of duty.

Posted by: Patrick Huss | August 23, 2008 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Lose the hate Democrats. Obama supporters need to stop attacking Hillary and her supporters. Having to convince them to not vote McCain is your OWN fault, stop disrespecting and hating your fellow Democrats, you are playing right into the hands of the real enemy, the Republicans. Hillary supporters on the other hand need to look past the rhetoric, ditch the hatred too and realize this is a race as was the primary and anyone running will do what they need to to win, they ALL do it. Hillary will always remain 'our girl' but for this moment it is Obama's and now Joe Biden's show. Help them out and let's put a Democrat back in the White House so that America can prosper and grow once again. Be a dedicated Democrat and a patriotic American, vote the Republicans out! Listen to Obama speak, listen to Biden speak, then be honest about who you think would make the better President, Obama or McCain? You will regret your vote if you waste it on McCain, don't be stupid. It's obvious, McCain is NOT what America needs, he is a liar and will be a continuation of Bush, no doubt.

As a staunch Hillary supporter, with Obama's choice of Joe Biden, I am fully now behind the Obama/Biden ticket.

Lose the hate, let's get it right this time, we don't need another destructive Republican in the White House.

Posted by: Democrats 08 | August 23, 2008 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Democrats 08,

Uh...okay(?). I must have missed all the Hillary hating sub-text of the above comments.

Posted by: jason330 | August 23, 2008 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Dem08 - I echo Jason's comments. Although there's some back biting going on in other columns, maybe you should keep your powder dry until there is an anti-Hillary comment?

Mind you, the nastiest messages I've seen come from such folks as Iowatreasures, Aspergirl, and 37th&O, all slicing into Obama. I suspect that in some cases, these are simply Republicans posting incognito.


Posted by: Fairlington blade | August 23, 2008 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Gee Humpty Dumpty you sound like a real idiot. You think we patriots will ever allow the commie Obama and his sidekick to take over? We have an obligation to protect this country and we will do so at any cost.


Posted by: Robert | August 23, 2008 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, just appoint Beau and see what happens. I'm sure the Del Attorney General (Beau) and the Pentagon will figure it out. This does create a small political problem for Beau in that he will (likely) get out of active service by taking his dad's Senatorial seat.

Posted by: Mrogers | August 23, 2008 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Wow, ya mean to tell me that the Democrats believe that Senate seats are hereditary? First the Kennedy's now the Biden's. Are the Clinton's next?

Posted by: GarandFan | August 23, 2008 9:07 PM | Report abuse


For one thing Ben Pershing is all wet. Joe Biden has given no indication whatsoever that he wants Beau to "succeed" him. Ben Pershing links to a Delaware blogger who was wondering aloud (two years ago) about Beau's long term prospects.

Also, I'm sure you don't want to talk hereditary politics when you have such winners in the Bush clan.

Ben - get your sh.t together.

Posted by: jason330 | August 23, 2008 9:19 PM | Report abuse

The big names in Delaware never run against each other, they are country club pols and it just isnt done (unless you are a dem looking to knock out a republican that is)

Posted by: Delaware conservative | August 23, 2008 10:55 PM | Report abuse

Delaware Conservative wrote:

"The big names in Delaware never run against each other, they are country club pols and it just isnt done (unless you are a dem looking to knock out a republican that is)"

How is it that Biden is a "Country Club" pol? Biden has a net worth of between $100,000 and $150,000 that is below that of most of his fellow senators (I have read that he is 99 out of 100 in net worth in the Senate). He has taken out a second mortgage in order to send his youngest child to college or university.

He commutes daily between Wilmington and Washington on the train. How many "Country Club pols" would even show up on an Amtrak Train? They wouldn't. They would get into either their private jets or into their limousines and make the commute that way.

Biden is no "Country Club" pol.

Posted by: ibm555 | August 24, 2008 1:09 AM | Report abuse

The Senatue is not a Duchy. We need a Constitutional Amendment forbidding succession of office to family members, regardless of qualification. We are a nation of law, not of nepotism.

Posted by: No Monarchy | August 24, 2008 7:08 AM | Report abuse

Oh well,so after the "Democrat Comedy Team"
of Doofus Obama and Goofus Biden get their
butts kicked by John McCain,that still will
leave Doofus Barack Hussein Obama and old
Mouthy Goofus Joe Biden their new careers
as stand up comics,on the comedy club and
doing one nighters around the USA.

Posted by: Sandy5274 | August 24, 2008 8:07 AM | Report abuse

I personally found it funnier when McCain forgot how many houses he had.
Sandy5274--You must A Child Left Behind. Might want to take a community college course on building an argument...

Posted by: Jonathan Swifty | August 25, 2008 2:41 AM | Report abuse

So will someone go tell Empty Suit Motor
Mouth Liberal Loser Joe Biden,that the USA
is not a damn Monarchy and that we donot
need anymore Liberal Democrat Nepotism,
such as getting Joe Biden's son appointed
to replace him in the US Senate as well.

So voters just remember the Liberal Democrats have always strongly supported
Nepotism in order to stay in control and
how things didnot work out too well when
applied to JFK,RFK, and Teddy Kennedy and
the rest of the Kennedy Clan,when you vote
on Election Day 2008 and this must be some
of Barack Obama's "Change You Can Believe
In" just more of the same Democrat Has Beens and Inexperienced Wannabes like Obama
and motor mouths like Joe Bidenm! Scary!

Posted by: Sherry Kay 2004 | August 25, 2008 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Several of you are making comments like some dumbbunny from the South.....if you hadn't noticed the last 7 1/2 years we have had a dictatorship, the wealth of the country has been redistributed upward, Robin Hood in Reverse, jobs are gone, mortgage crisis, banking crisis, Market gone to hell, gas crisis, you name it, we've had it, and you WANT MORE OF THE SAME, you will smear the good guys and suck up to the Black Hats....OBAMA BIDEN is the only way we have to go to save our country, Get with it !!!!!!!!!! Educate yourself.

Posted by: ratface | August 25, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Biden Returns:

I was impressed by the digs Senator Biden has.
It was made majestic in a comparison with Hyde
Park. In terms of a driveway, Biden has it hands-down
over McCain.

Looking at Biden, It must be so that the U.S. Senate generates moola in abundance. Therefore if team Obach/Biden does not make it in November, it's sure there there will be no need for medcaid.

But its a shame that the media compares McCain as an
extension of Bush, but not allowing the comparison of Biden and Obama - in terms of the privilege bestowed by the Senate
with regard to wealth mining.

Posted by: 3rd-Party Advocate | August 25, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Gee, I didn't realise senate seats were hereditary. How craptabulous!

Posted by: MJ | August 26, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

How dumb are you? If you leave office prior to the end of your term the GOVERNOR of the state picks the person who will be seated for the remainder of the term.
If you DIE while in office your wife can take your seat. It is not nepotism or heredity but just the way it is.

Posted by: Katerina Deligiannis | August 26, 2008 5:46 PM | Report abuse

This is sickening. Why don't we just abolish the Senate and create a House of Lords and get it over with. At least we could save some money on elections.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 27, 2008 6:08 PM | Report abuse

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