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August 23, 2008

Beau for Joe?

Barack Obama’s selection of Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) as his running mate could provide an opening for Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden to succeed his dad in the Senate.

Joe Biden is running for reelection to his Senate seat this year, and Delaware election law allows him to run for president and for his Senate seat at the same time. But if Obama wins the presidency, Biden would have to vacate the seat.

Democratic Gov. Ruth Ann Minner would then be tasked with selecting a replacement who would serve for two years, until 2010, when a special election would be held. The appointee would likely have an edge heading into that special election. And the 39-year-old Beau Biden would be an obvious choice, as one of the leading statewide Democratic officials.  (He narrowly won election in 2006 after working at a Wilmington law firm.)

The one sticking point in the succession plan? In addition to his role as state attorney general, Beau Biden is also a captain in the Army National Guard and will be deploying to Iraq in October with his National Guard unit. He is slated to spend about a year in Iraq, which would preclude him from being selected to serve in the Senate in early 2009.

Two other potential Democratic successors in the event of a Biden vacancy are the two statewide officials squaring off against each other to be the Democrats’ gubernatorial nominee: Lt. Gov. John Carney and state Treasurer Jack Markell.

Republicans have also been tossing GOP congressman and former Delaware governor Mike Castle’s name around as a possible candidate for Biden’s seat in the event of a vacancy.