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Opinion: Will Joe Biden face a double election situation this fall?

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Joe Biden, the senator from Delaware and one of those vanquished by Barack Obama in the Democratic presidential race, remains a hot prospect in the vice presidential sweepstakes (something retired Gen. Wesley Clark probably can’t claim).

The 65-year-old Biden, as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, would bring the deep-seated experience in international matters that Obama lacks. Although Delaware and its 3 electoral voters almost assuredly are in the Democratic column, Biden could help his party’s ticket in two nearby and crucial states. He’s well-known in some parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, by virtue of having been in the public eye for so long.

But perhaps his biggest asset is his Roman Catholic faith; in the view of many political handicappers, an Obama/Biden ticket could make inroads with a bloc of voters that has been resistant so far to the presumptive presidential nominee.

There is one slight complication. Biden is up for reelection this November -- he’s heavily favored to snare a seventh six-year term -- and in some states it is illegal to be on the ballot for two offices at once.

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In Delaware, the issue is simply not addressed, state Commissioner of Elections Elaine Manlove recently told an NBC affiliate in New Jersey. ‘It’s not that our law says he can’t (run for Senate and vice president at the same time). It’s that it doesn’t say it at all. There’s nothing in Delaware law that says he can’t.’

The National Journal’s Hotline noted earlier today that if state officials were asked to weigh in on the issue, Biden might have a built-in advantage. Delaware’s attorney general happens to be Beau Biden, one of the senator’s sons.

Within the last 50 years, three vice presidential nominees -- all Democrats -- have simultaneously sought reelection to Senate seats: Lyndon Johnson of Texas in 1960, fellow Texan Lloyd Bentsen in 1988 and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut in 2000.

Each won their Senate races, but only Johnson also was part of a winning national ticket (meaning he gave up his seat on Capitol Hill).

-- Don Frederick


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