Beau Biden to Replace Joe Biden?
While Barack Obama has already resigned his Senate seat to concentrate on the transition, Joe Biden has not followed suit. NBC’s Doug Adams speculates that he’s holding off on doing so in order to set the stage for his son, Beau, to replace him.
Biden told a local TV station right before Election Day he didn’t want to resign his seat right away, leading to speculation about whether he is trying to deny the outgoing governor of Delaware — Democrat Ruth Ann Minner — the chance to appoint his successor. Under that scenario, Biden would wait until moments before he is sworn in as vice president to resign his seat, which could enable the new governor, Jack Markell, to make the appointment.
Biden has been said for some time to be grooming his son Beau Biden to succeed him in the Senate. Beau is currently Delaware’s Attorney General. He is on leave while he serves on active duty in the Delaware National Guard, where he is a captain. Beau Biden is scheduled to be deployed to Iraq for about a year, making it unlikely he’d be appointed now to his father’s seat. But he would be well positioned to run in 2010, when a special election will be held to fill the remaining four years of his father’s term.
The current thinking then is that a placeholder would be appointed to fill the seat for two years until the younger Biden could run.
Appointing family members to succeed politicians who suddenly die in office is a longstanding tradition, as is capitalizing on the family name to get a leg up in running for office. The latter is at least a byproduct of popular will; the former is beyond unseemly. The cases of Jean Carnahan, Mary Bono, and Lisa Murkowski are recent examples of the practice.
As a practical matter, there’s not much that can be done about it, since state constitutions control these situations and it’s unlikely that people are going to be irritated enough about political nepotism to amend the constitutions of 50 states. It would be a good idea, though.
While we’re at it, let’s just do away with appointments to fill vacant elective offices altogether. It makes no sense to have governors anointing their favorites as the prohibitive favorite to win the next election through the power of incumbency. And, in not infrequent cases, to have governors of the opposite party overturn the will of the people at the last election.