The leak beat the mass texting, so thousands of Americans were waken overnight to find out Barack Obama selected Delaware Senator Joe Biden to be his Vice-Presidential running mate. While Biden seemed like the odds-on favorite, it was a pick that apparently makes an attempt to shore up what is commonly thought to be Obama’s most glaring weakness, a lack of experience dealing with foreign affairs. However, the choice of Biden means that neither of the two top Democrats will have executive experience or have spent much time in the private sector – both have primarily been politicians for much of their adult lives. Biden’s political career spans nearly four decades. (The only Democrat finalist who had recent executive experience was Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius.) Nor does the pick of Biden help Obama win a major number of electoral votes. There’s not many polls done in Delaware, but a February poll I found in Hedgehog Report had Obama up nine points, 50-41 – moreover, Democrats control the state’s highest offices. Thus, it was pretty apparent Obama shouldn’t have been too worried about those three Delaware electoral votes – although it is still a close election in the Electoral College too.
Closer to home, Biden’s potential election to the second-highest office in the land would enable the First State to finally garner a spot among those states who have had a chief executive in office. (This with the caveat that Biden is actually a Pennsylvania native but moved with his family to Delaware as a boy.) It also presents the intriguing situation of having Biden on the ballot twice in one election. In a quick reading of Delaware election law, I found no prohibition on Biden being on the ballot as both a candidate for United States Senator and Vice-President; however, there are interesting political implications if he’s elected to both offices. Here is Title 15, Chapter 73 of the Delaware Code, which covers a vacancy in the office of United States Senator.
If the Obama/Biden ticket wins nationally and Senator Biden is also retained, the timing of Biden’s resignation will hinge on whoever wins the race for Governor. The odds-on favorite would be whoever survives the Democrats’ primary between State Treasurer Jack Markell and Lieutenant Governor John Carney, but if presumptive GOP hopeful Bill Lee wins in November Biden would certainly tender his Senate resignation before outgoing Democratic Governor Ruth Ann Minner leaves office so a Democrat could be picked. If you run under the assumption of the Democrats retaining the Governorship, it’s possible that because the Senate term begins about two weeks before the Presidential one, Biden would have the chance to be sworn in as a Senator for another term before switching seats and taking over the spot Dick Cheney has held so well for the last eight years as President of the Senate.
This also could create an outstanding consolation prize for the loser of the Markell-Carney race. More than most states, Delaware seems to have politicians cycle between various offices and certainly Delaware’s Democrats would be mindful that the Biden replacement would be on the ballot once again in 2010 to finish the remainder of his term. (It would give Delaware voters five consecutive U.S. Senate elections since 2010 would have otherwise been the “off” year, as 2008 is here in Maryland.) If they select Markell to become a Senator then the Democrats would have to pick a state Treasurer to finish his term, and then a vacancy would occur in whatever office the new Treasurer hailed from, and so on. One thing Delaware Democrats have is a pretty deep bench of officeholders, mainly from Wilmington and New Castle County. Meanwhile, Carney is not running from cover so he’ll need a job come 2009 should he lose the primary fight.
There’s a tremendous amount of intrigue possible depending on the circumstances, but Delaware voters also have the chance to help end Joe Biden’s political career as well. They could help elect John McCain as President and shock the nation by voting Christine O’Donnell into the United States Senate. I was actually planning on looking at the three major Delaware races from the standpoint of my pet issues, but this breaking news took precedence so perhaps I’ll do the posts over Labor Day weekend. If a Delaware blogger can take interest in a Maryland race, I’ll make up for his lack of attention to his home state and provide my own insight.
Crossposted at That’s Elbert With An E.