Until the recent Democratic debacles in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts, Delaware voters expected to vote for a Biden in the 2010 Senate race — Beau Biden, the eldest son of the Vice President who vacated the seat when Barack Obama won the Presidency.  The younger Biden was expected to make his intentions known this month, after he expressed interest in October in pursuing his father’s seat in the upper chamber.  However, his father gave a strong hint to columnist Harry Themal that Beau may sit out 2010, much to Joe Biden’s chagrin:

In January 2009, when Joe Biden said goodbye to the Senate where he had served for 36 years, he told his colleagues, “I will always be a Senate man. Except for the title of ‘father,’ there is no title, including ‘vice president,’ that I am more proud to wear than that of United States senator.”

Now, one year later, he is dismayed by what has happened to the Senate, and he is trying to convince a reluctant son to run for his former seat. …

Our conversation ended with a surprising request from the vice president as he hurried off to a national security meeting. Spontaneously, he turned to the possible Delaware senatorial campaign of his son Beau.

Biden: “If you run into Beau, talk him into running; he respects you.”

Me: “I don’t think he wants to run, though.”

Biden: “I don’t think he does either. I know he doesn’t want to. … I’m so proud of the job he’s done [as attorney general].” …

I doubt Beau Biden “respects” me, but it was quite startling to hear the vice president confirm what many Democrats fear — that Beau does not want to be the candidate.

Even before the three Democratic Party losses, Rasmussen had Biden trailing likely Republican candidate Mike Castle by five points, 47-42. That’s about the same margin of victory Biden had in his first election to the Attorney General office in 2006. That vote took place in a year where Democrats swamped elections from coast to coast, seizing both the House and the Senate.

Nothing has happened since to improve the fortunes of Democrats, and plenty has happened to slow down their momentum. Biden would have to run again this year to get another term as AG, and in that race his incumbency would help him. In a race for the Senate, the presumed incumbency of Democrats will work against him, and Delaware’s independents would be likely to send a message to the elder Biden and Obama by voting against the idea of an inherited Senate seat for the Biden family.

I’d guess that Beau has made a wise decision to ride out the storm coming for Democrats by sticking to a relatively safer re-election campaign. That may be even wiser after having his father attempt to lobby a columnist to harangue his son into choosing otherwise.

Update: Jim Geraghty agrees that Beau seems to be more savvy than his dad.

Update II: Delaware Online has updated their story with the following (same link as above):

An earlier version of Harry Themal’s column incorrectly said Vice President Biden said his son, Attorney General Beau Biden, did not want to run for the U.S. Senate. Vice President Biden was referring to Sen. Ted Kaufman, who currently holds the seat and has said he will not run for the seat in the November election.

Er, OK.  Did Themal mistake Ted for Beau?  That seems rather unlikely.  I’d bet that the VP’s office made a call to DO’s offices or to Themal when this story broke.

Besides, why would Biden talk up Ted Kaufman for the election if his son Beau was still interested?  If anything, this correction underscores the idea that Beau will take a pass on the Senate seat.