Discuss as:

Biden aiming to keep seat in family?

From NBC's Doug Adams
With President-elect Obama having resigned his Senate seat yesterday, folks may be wondering about what Vice President-elect Biden might do.

Biden told a local TV station right before Election Day he didn't want to resign his seat right away, leading to speculation about whether he is trying to deny the outgoing governor of Delaware -- Democrat Ruth Ann Minner -- the chance to appoint his successor. 

Under that scenario, Biden would wait until moments before he is sworn in as vice president to resign his seat, which could enable the new governor, Jack Markell, to make the appointment.

Biden has been said for some time to be grooming his son Beau Biden to succeed him in the Senate. Beau is currently Delaware's Attorney General. He is on leave while he serves on active duty in the Delaware National Guard, where he is a captain.

Beau Biden is scheduled to be deployed to Iraq for about a year, making it unlikely he'd be appointed now to his father's seat. But he would be well positioned to run in 2010, when a special election will be held to fill the remaining four years of his father's term. 

The current thinking then is that a placeholder would be appointed to fill the seat for two years until the younger Biden could run. The consensus choice of Delaware Democratic officials is the outgoing Lt. Gov. Jack Carney, who lost his own bid governor to Markell in a bitter primary.

But others worry Carney might not want to step down in 2010, and might instead seek to keep the seat and present an obstacle to Beau Biden.

With all of this swirling, Obama's resignation Sunday is putting a lot of pressure on Biden to announce his intentions soon, several Delaware political observers tell NBC News. Waiting to resign could be seen as unseemly -- an obvious political ploy to manipulate the system and clear the way for his son.

So the likely speculation now -- and that's all it is at this point -- is that Joe Biden will step down sooner rather than later, and allow outgoing Gov. Minner to name his successor.

For those who care -- any appointee named before the incoming 2009 freshman class is sworn in on Jan. 3rd would have more seniority. And if Carney isn't the pick, then Delaware Secretary of State Harriet Smith Windsor could be the choice, observers say. She's in her late 60s, a loyal ally of Gov. Minner, and unlikely to want a long career in the US Senate. If selected, she'd be the first female US senator from Delaware.