Two Bidens, a presidential selfie, and a big announcement about 2016

Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden and his father, Vice President Joe Biden, both made headlines in the past 24 hours. One announced he's running for higher office, and the other took a selfie with President Obama.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP/File
Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden pauses while speaking at a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, Feb. 5, 2013. Biden, the elder son of Vice President Joe Biden, announced Thursday that he's not running for reelection as Delaware's attorney general this fall and instead will run for governor in 2016.

It’s official, Biden is running in 2016.

But not Vice President Joe Biden. And not for president. Beau Biden, the elder son of Vice President Biden, announced Thursday that he’s not running for reelection as Delaware’s attorney general this fall and instead will run for governor in 2016.

The younger Mr. Biden has long been seen as the political heir to his father, and Thursday’s announcement has revived the chatter. In 2008, Attorney General Biden was about to deploy to Iraq, and thus not available for a temporary appointment to his father’s Senate seat when Dad became vice president. Then the younger Biden opted not to run in the 2010 special Senate election – the one made famous when fringe candidate Christine “I'm not a witch” O’Donnell defeated Rep. Mike Castle (R) in the GOP primary and lost to now-Sen. Chris Coons (D) in the general.

Given the gridlock in Washington, the governor’s chair may have more appeal in any case. Plus, both of Delaware’s Senate seats are occupied by Democrats.

Beau Biden’s announcement was also a reminder of his father’s political ambitions. The vice president has made no secret that he’s thinking of running for president in 2016, especially if Hillary Rodham Clinton doesn’t. The selfie that Joe Biden took Wednesday with President Obama looked to be a lighthearted way to get some viral buzz.

Biden would be pushing the envelope, age-wise, if he runs for president. So the selfie also seemed to be a shoutout to the younger set: as in, look at me, now I’m on Instagram and taking selfies with POTUS.

Beau Biden’s announcement caught the Delaware political establishment by surprise: The Sept. 9 Democratic primary for the 2014 race is less than five months away. And questions remain about the younger Biden’s health, after two episodes in recent years. Biden made his gubernatorial announcement in an e-mail to supporters and did not appear in public.

"Over the past few months, as I've been planning to run for reelection, I have also been giving a great deal of thought to running for governor in 2016," he wrote. "What started as a thought – a very persistent thought – has now become a course of action that I wish to pursue."

Allan Loudell, a host at WDEL-AM radio in Wilmington, Del., notes that Biden has been “noticeably unavailable” for media interviews ever since he fell ill in August and underwent a medical procedure in Texas.

“Will he press the flesh, meet with reporters, and do what politicians normally do?” Mr. Loudell writes on his blog. “Or will this be a stealth campaign? Or is he counting on building his physical strength by the time he leaves his current office? If a stealth campaign, could he still win just by virtue of the Biden name and being a ‘D’ in a heavily blue state?”

So many questions. Normally, an announcement that a small-state attorney general is running for governor in two years doesn’t merit much national attention. But when it’s a Biden – and the vice president’s future is also up in the air – the media take notice. 

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