When Vice President-elect Joe Biden resigns his Senate seat sometime before the January 20 inauguration, his close friend and adviser Ted Kaufman will fill the vacancy until the 2010 election, a decision announced Monday by Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner and widely seen as a way for a Biden pal to sit on the Senate seat until Biden’s son Beau is ready to run for it.
"I know this is was an unusual circumstance for the voters this year," the six-term senator said in a statement. "And I want to thank the people of Delaware for the trust they placed in me. Now as I leave the Senate for the Vice Presidency, I believe Governor Minner has appointed the very best person she could have chosen to serve Delaware at this time in the United States Senate."
Minner’s announcement comes three weeks after Biden won re-election in Delaware (to his seventh term) on the same day that he also earned the job of Vice President as President-elect Barack Obama’s running mate. (Biden as Senator got more votes in Delaware than Biden as Veep.)
Biden and Kaufman, friends for over 30 years, were often together on the campaign trail in recent months. Now Kaufman will hold down the seat for two years until the next election, at which point Biden’s son Beau — who we are obligated to say is by all accounts a good man and considered in the "Small Wonder" state to be an upstanding public servant — could be a possible candidate.
Beau Biden, Delaware’s Attorney General, departed last week to start a year-long deployment in Iraq with the National Guard.
"It is no secret that I believe my son, Attorney General Beau Biden, would make a great United States Senator — just as I believe he has been a great Attorney General," Biden said. "But Beau has made it clear from the moment he entered public life, that any office he sought, he would earn on his own. He proved that two years ago when he turned down an appointment as Attorney General. Instead, he ran on his own and won election."
Amidst rampant speculation this past month that he could be in line to replace his father, Beau Biden last week emailed his hometown newspaper, the Wilmington News-Journal, to say he had not sought nor would he seek a Senate appointment.
"Typical of Beau, he made it clear again this year that he would not accept an appointment to the United States Senate," Biden said today. "As he said when he deployed overseas, he is determined to fulfill his military obligations and then return to his duties as Attorney General. If he chooses to run for the Senate in the future, he will have to run and win on his own. He wouldn’t have it any other way."
"For now, my concern is with Beau’s safety, not his political future," Biden added.
Biden said that Kaufman’s service as his Senate chief of staff for 19 years gave him "first-rate qualifications" that would enable him to "hit the ground running" on Capitol Hill.
"I can say with absolute confidence that with Ted Kaufman in the Senate, Delaware will be in very good hands," said Biden of Kaufman, who announced he would only serve for two years.
According to his spokesperson Elizabeth Alexander, Biden will step down in the next 40-50 days, bringing his 36-year run as Delaware’s chief lawmaker in Washington to an end.
"To the voters, again let me thank you for the trust you have placed in me," said the loquacious Blue Hen. "To Governor Minner, thank you for making this difficult decision. And to Senator Kaufman – serve the people well. It will be for you, as it has been for me, the privilege of a lifetime."
Earlier Monday, Biden attended Obama’s economic press conference in Chicago before returning to Delaware to participate in a "Stockings for Soldiers" event in Wilmington with his wife, Jill.
– Jake Tapper and Matt Jaffe