Attorney General Joseph “Beau” Biden is running for governor in 2016 and will not seek another term as Delaware’s top lawyer this year.
In an email from his campaign office, Biden said, “"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. What started as a thought -– a very persistent thought -– has now become a course of action that I wish to pursue.”
Biden said it would not be right to ask for support for another term as attorney general while at the same time running as a candidate for governor.
"Therefore, I am announcing today that I will not seek re-election as your attorney general this November,” he said.
Biden thanked his colleagues in the Department of Justice for the past eight years of service. He said the Attorney General’s Office is a four-year commitment, a responsibility too significant to give anything less than his complete and undivided attention.
“In the meantime, there’s a lot more work to do over the next eight months, and I intend to get it done. After my term is completed, I look forward to meeting with Delawareans and continuing to discuss my plans as a candidate for governor, Biden said. “Please know that the opportunity to serve you in this office is and always has been a tremendous honor. Thank you for the faith you’ve placed in me."
Biden campaign spokeswoman Molly Magarik said Biden is keeping his focus on being attorney general and a dad until it is time to start campaigning in 2015.
There have been questions about Biden’s health since he visited a Texas cancer hospital in August. He has made few public appearances since then and when he has appeared, he has been noticeably thinner than before.
Magarik said Biden’s health was not part of his consideration, and his doctors have given him a clean bill of health. “He feels great,” Magarik said.
Biden, a Democrat, will seek the seat occupied by Jack Markell, whose steps down when his second term ends in 2016.
Speaker of the House Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, said Biden’s move is no surprise. He said he spoke with Biden a year ago and even then could tell he was interested in a run for governor.
Schwartzkopf said as attorney general, Biden has done a lot of good by going after child predators. He cited the Earl Bradley case, in which Biden gave up a chance at running for a U.S. Senate seat that once belonged to his father, Vice President Joe Biden, to focus on prosecuting Bradley, a former pediatrician convicted of abusing more than 86 child patients in the Cape Region.
With Biden stepping aside as attorney general, that race is now wide open.
Delaware GOP Chairman Charlie Copeland said the attorney general’s race is now a critical election.
While Biden deserves credit for his service, Copeland said, “Republicans intend to engage in this race and be successful."
Delaware Democratic Party Chairman John Daniello said, “I admire the Attorney General for being forthright about his intentions to run for governor. He has done quality work for the state and should be proud of his accomplishments."
Daniello continued, "Our primary focus remains the 2014 election. Over the next few days and weeks we will work to recruit a qualified candidate for attorney general and continue to support our current slate of Democratic candidates.”
Besides Biden, Delaware U.S. Rep. John Carney and Lt. Gov. Matt Denn, both Democrats, are among potential candidates to succeed Markell.
Carney said, ““Beau Biden has served our state well for the last eight years as attorney general. I wish him well.”
“I’m focused on my own reelection campaign this year and continuing to represent Delawareans’ best interests in Congress,” Carney said.
Denn could not be reached by press time.
In a statement, U.S. Sen. Chris Coons said, “Beau Biden has been an effective attorney general, and I’m sorry to see him leave this critical law enforcement office. He has a lot to offer our state, and I think he has a bright future ahead of him.”