Sen. Ted Kaufman (D)
Elected: Appointed Jan. 2009, term expires 2010, 1st term.
Born: March 15, 1939, Philadelphia, PA .
Education: Duke U., B.S., 1960; U. of PA, M.B.A., 1966..
Family: Married (Lynne); 3 children.
Professional Career: DuPont Co., 1966-73; St. dir., U.S. Sen. Joe Biden, 1973-76; Chief of staff, Sen. Biden, 1976-95; Duke Law Schl. Center for Study of Congress, 1995-99; Sr. lecturing fellow, Duke U., 1991-2008; Board mbr., Broadcasting Board of Govs., 1995-2008.
Ted Kaufman, Delaware’s junior senator, was appointed by Democratic Gov. Ruth Ann Minner in November 2008 to replace his former boss, newly elected Vice President Biden. Kaufman, a Democrat, grew up in Philadelphia, the son of a Jewish father and Catholic mother, attending Mass every Sunday and then lunching on bagels and lox. He received an engineering degree from Duke University and a business degree from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1966, at age 27, Kaufman moved to Delaware to work for DuPont. In his spare time, he helped out on political campaigns, and in 1971, he set up a meeting between a neighborhood association and a 29-year-old New Castle Council member who was running for U.S. senator named Joe Biden. In early 1972, Valerie Owens, Biden’s sister and campaign manager, called Kaufman to recruit him to conduct voter registration. This was a long-shot race against Republican Sen. Caleb Boggs, who had held statewide office since 1947 and was widely liked and admired. But Biden ran a convincing campaign that argued the state needed a fresh face in the Senate and warned that Boggs was ready to retire.
|Joseph Biden (D)||257,539||(65%)||($4,907,245)|
|Christine O'Donnell (R)||140,595||(35%)||($116,050)|
|Joseph Biden (D)||Unopposed|
Biden won that race, but soon afterward tragedy struck. His young wife and daughter were killed in an automobile accident in December. Biden nearly resigned but decided to begin his Senate term as planned, and he asked Kaufman to set up his Delaware office. Kaufman took a leave of absence from DuPont for a year. Biden wound up adding to his responsibilities, and Kaufman stayed on. In 1976, he became Biden’s chief of staff, serving in that role for nearly two decades. This was in line with the practice of many members of Congress, who are backstopped by a trusted aide who remains with them for many years and is known to reflect the legislator’s thinking. Kaufman usually commuted with Biden every night from Washington back to Wilmington, first by car and then by Amtrak train. Kaufman served as treasurer of Biden’s presidential campaign in 1987, and he was by his side after the candidate underwent surgery for a near-fatal aneurysm in 1988.
In 1991, Kaufman started teaching a course on government, politics, and public policy in the global economy at Duke Law School and its Sanford Public Policy Institute. When he left Biden’s staff in 1995, he was for four years the co-chair of the Duke Law School Center for the Study of Congress. Kaufman also served as a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors from 1995 to 2008, where he worked on expanding freedom of the press around the world. He opened a political and management consulting business in Wilmington and helped with Biden’s 1996 and 2002 re-election campaigns. Kaufman was an adviser to the senator’s 2008 presidential campaign and traveled with him after he was nominated for vice president. In November 2008, Biden made him co-chair of his vice presidential transition team.
While sharing the ticket with Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, Biden was also on the Delaware ballot seeking a seventh Senate term, a race everyone knew he would win, and at some point he asked Kaufman whether he would accept appointment to the Senate if Obama won the presidency. “He said if I was offered the job I should take it,” Kaufman later told the Wilmington News Journal. On November 21, as Kaufman and his wife were preparing to fly to London for a family Thanksgiving, he was contacted by outgoing Gov. Minner about the Senate appointment. On November 24, Minner stunned the Delaware political world by announcing that she would appoint Kaufman rather than any of the Democratic state officeholders who were considered likely picks. The governor said she believed that Kaufman had a record of putting the state’s interests ahead of his own and that he most closely reflected Biden’s views. (The 74-year-old Minner told the The New York Times that she didn’t appoint herself because “I didn’t want to commute, and I didn’t want to work.”) The vice president-elect praised the appointment, but some Delaware political noses were out of joint. Some had expected Minner to appoint Lt. Gov. John Carney, whom she had endorsed to succeed her and who had lost the September Democratic primary to Treasurer Jack Markell by a close 51%-49%. Democratic state Chairman John Daniello declined to congratulate Kaufman, and his office referred callers to Minner, Biden, and Kaufman.
Kaufman made it clear from the start that he would not run for the seat in 2010, when Biden’s six-year term ends. “I do not think Delaware’s appointed senator should spend the next two years running for office,” he told the Wilmington newspaper. His appointment was seen in Washington and in some quarters of Delaware as a move to keep the seat open for Biden’s son, Democrat Beau Biden; Beau had won election as Delaware’s attorney general by 53%-47% in 2006, and he did a tour of duty in Iraq with the Delaware National Guard in 2008. Biden says he thinks that his son “would make a great United States senator.” Kaufman was compared by some to Benjamin A. Smith II, John Kennedy’s college roommate, who in 1960 was appointed to fill his Senate seat so that it would be available to brother Edward Kennedy in 1962 when he reached the constitutional age of 30. But Smith’s public service was limited to a term as mayor of Gloucester, nothing like the years of experience Kaufman has had in the Senate.
Responding to criticism that other, more likely candidates had been passed over, Kaufman argued that he was well prepared for the role, given his experience in and knowledge of the Senate and its machinations. And he stressed in the interview with the News Journal that he and Biden have much in common: “My mother and his mother are both Irish, both are strong-willed, smart. We just shared a lot of common things. We had common values. We both are strong Catholics. Family is really, really important to us.”
Biden resigned on January 15, 2009, having served 12 days of his seventh term. Kaufman was sworn in on January 16 by Vice President Cheney with Biden, no longer a senator, silent by his side. He was assigned seats on Biden’s committees, Foreign Relations and Judiciary, and he hired many current and former Biden staffers. He supported the February 2009 economic stimulus bill proposed by Obama, saying he was mainly interested in working on “getting the economy moving.” With Connecticut Democrat Patrick Leahy and Iowa Republican Charles Grassley, Kaufman co-sponsored a bill in February 2009 funding federal law enforcement efforts to prosecute financial fraud.
In early 2009, Michael Castle, Delaware’s Republican representative-at-large, was on the list of potential Senate contenders.