By Shailagh Murray
As Sen. Barack Obama closes in on his running mate pick, one prospect with clear momentum is Sen. Joseph Biden Jr.
Even difficult news for the Delaware Democrat personally has added a compelling twist to his case. On Oct. 3, Biden's son, Joseph Robinette "Beau" Biden III, will be deployed to Iraq.
"I don't want him going," Biden told an Iowa state fair crowd a year ago, when, as a presidential candidate himself, he learned that his son's unit would be deployed at some point in 2008. "But I don't want my grandsons or granddaughters going back in 15 years. So how we leave makes a big difference."
Beau is the Delaware attorney general and a captain in the Army National Guard. He is the oldest of Biden's two sons with his first wife, Neilia. She was killed in a car accident, along with the couple's 1-year-old daughter Naomi, shortly after Biden was elected to his first Senate term.
Beau and his brother Hunter, both toddlers, were seriously injured in the crash and Biden was sworn in at their hospital bedside. Every night through six Senate terms, he has commuted home to Wilmington, Del., on Amtrak.
Beau's deployment raises an interesting question: What will become of Biden's Senate seat if he gets the veep nods and Obama wins the election? Delaware political observers (yes, they do exist) have long presumed that Beau hoped to succeed his father.
The senator, who is seeking a seventh term this year, may remain on the November Senate ballot, according to state election law. If Biden wins both races, he can take the Senate oath and then resign. The Democratic governor, Ruth Ann Minner, would then appoint a replacement who would serve until the next general election in 2010.
The law is unclear, however, as to whether Beau Biden could be named while serving in Iraq.