WASHINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden's son Beau, once seen as the heir to his father's Senate seat, said Monday that he wouldn't run for it this year, a new blow to Democrats' efforts to maintain a strong Senate majority.
"I have a duty to fulfill as attorney general, and the immediate need to focus on a case of great consequence," said Beau Biden, age 40, who's been Delaware's attorney general since January 2007. He said that pursuing the work of his Child Predator Task Force was his highest priority. "And that is what I must do. Therefore I cannot and will not run for the United States Senate in 2010. I will run for re-election as attorney general."
Biden's decision means that Delaware Republican U.S. Rep. Michael Castle, a former two-term governor and popular statewide figure, is now the favorite to win the seat that Joe Biden held from 1973 until he became vice president a year ago.
Castle, 70, who's in his ninth term in the House of Representatives, always has run statewide to win the seat, and he won his 2008 election with 61 percent of the vote.
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Beau Biden's decision also means that Democrats face another uphill race in a state in which they'd once expected an easy victory, and it underscores the powerful head winds their party faces as November approaches.
Already this month, Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said he wouldn't run again, and the state's Republican governor, John Hoeven, is the favorite; Massachusetts state Sen. Scott Brown, a Republican, won the late Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy's Massachusetts seat; and Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., a 30-year Senate veteran, said he was retiring. Democratic incumbents also face tough races in Colorado, Arkansas and Nevada.
Democrats now control 60 of the 100 Senate seats, including two independents who caucus with them. Thirty-seven are up for re-election this year, 19 of them now held by Democrats and 18 by Republicans.
Republicans were jubilant Monday, calling Biden's decision a "major recruiting setback" for Democrats. Incumbent Sen. Ted Kaufman, D-Del., a longtime aid to Joe Biden, has been seen as an interim appointment holding the seat for Beau Biden.
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