ABC News’ Arnab Datta & Ed O’Keefe Report: When Joe Biden joined Barack Obama on the Democratic presidential ticket Saturday, he also joined another rare club: senators who run simultaneously for the office of vice president and reelection to the Senate.
Biden, D-Del., first elected in 1972 to the ‘world’s greatest deliberative body’ at the tender age of 29, is seeking reelection to his seventh 6-year term in 2008. And though Delaware is a reliably Democratic state, the precarious 51-49 balance of power in the Senate puts even more pressure on the newly minted vice presidential contender to clarify a murky situation.
If he is elected to both offices, Biden’s new term as senator would begin on January 3rd. The new governor would be sworn in a few weeks after, on the third Tuesday in January. No matter what, the current governor — Ruth Ann Minner, a Democrat — would appoint his successor.
Precedent for this is then Sen. Dan Quayle, R-Ind., in 1988, who resigned in between the election and his inauguration as vice president, and the governor of Indiana at that time appointed his successor.
In 2000, Sen. Joe Lieberman, then a Democrat, ran for both reelection to the Senate and as Vice President Al Gore’s running mate. He went 1-for-2 and kept his day job.
The Delaware constitution, however, does not explicitly refer to whether a candidate can run for the Senate and vice president in the same general election. Local papers indicate that state law allows Biden to run for re-election to the Senate as well as for the vice presidency simultaneously. With the legal issues unclear, the current Attorney General of Delaware may be called on to interpret. Luckily for Sen. Biden, the Attorney General of Delaware happens to be his son, Beau Biden.
If needed, possible replacements for Biden include his son Beau, Lt. Gov. John Carney, State Treasurer Jack Markell, or Gov. Ruth Ann Minner.
ABC News’ Matt Jaffe contributed to this report.