Longtime aide Ted Kaufman to fill Biden's Senate seat

WILMINGTON, Del. -- Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner on Monday named a longtime, close adviser to Vice President-elect Joe Biden to fill the senator's seat until a 2010 special election.

Her selection of Ted Kaufman opens the possibility that Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden can run in 2010 for the seat his father fills in the Senate. Beau Biden is deploying to Iraq with his Delaware National Guard unit, and last week said he would carry out his military obligations and refuse any Senate appointment.

Kaufman, 69, will take the job early next year, after Biden takes the oath for a seventh term on Jan. 6, then resigns to assume the office of the vice presidency on Jan. 20.

"I believe Ted Kaufman meets every test I set for this office," Minner said. "His political views are close to Sen. Biden's, and he has agreed to focus solely on doing the people's work, not seeking re-election."

Kaufman said Biden had encouraged him to take the appointment if offered. "I do not think Delaware's appointed senator should spend the next two years running for office," Kaufman said. "I will do this job to the fullest of my ability."

Biden described Kaufman as "the very best" Minner could have chosen.

"There is no one who knows more about how the United States Senate works and no one who is more ready to do this job for Delaware than Ted Kaufman," Biden said in a statement. "I care deeply about this Senate seat and I care deeply about Delaware. And I can say with absolute confidence that with Ted Kaufman in the Senate, Delaware will be in very good hands."

Lt. Gov. John Carney as recently as last week had said he would take the job under any terms offered, including as a "placeholder" who would serve only until the 2010 special election.

Minner has said repeatedly that the choice should reflect the voters' decision earlier this month to re-elect Biden to a seat he has held since 1972. "I believe it's critical for whoever it is who is appointed that they will take this position solely for doing their very best and what's best for Delaware and not think about re-election," Minner said Monday. Voters, not her, should choose a successor for Biden, she said.

Kaufman worked for Biden for 22 years, retiring in 1994 as chief of staff of the senator's Washington office. He is also one of Biden's two representatives on Obama's transition team.

Montgomery reports for The News Journal in Wilmington, Del.