Posted: May 31, 2005


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

U.S. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. has two high-dollar fund-raisers scheduled for June in Delaware, both of them expected to generate a cascade of checks of $1,000 or more, along with ample speculation about the six-term Democrat's political plans.

The first one on June 10 is the more exclusive event, inviting past contributors to hobnob with the senator in his own home in Chateau Country.

The second on June 24 taps into the state's deep-pocketed legal profession, especially its elite bankruptcy bar, bringing the lawyers to the Hotel du Pont in Wilmington not long after the passage of a new bankruptcy law expected to benefit their practices by adding four bankruptcy judges here.

It is clear where the contributions are going but not how long they will be staying there. The checks are to be made out to Biden's Senate campaign treasury.

"It's preparing for re-election," said Edward E. "Ted" Kaufman, a close political adviser who was Biden's chief of staff.

Kaufman said it with at least as much straightforwardness as U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's political advisers are heard saying that the former first lady, a first-term Democrat from New York, is focused entirely on her 2006 re-election campaign.

Biden's term is up in 2008, the same year as the next presidential campaign that could draw his attention, as well as Clinton's. Still, it has not escaped notice that a portion of what Biden raises for his Senate account could be used in a race for the Democratic nomination.

"That's what we're hoping for," said one lawyer who plans to write a check.

Biden is following his past practice of bulking up his treasury in off-years, leaving the election years largely to the candidates on the ballot. Under federal law, individuals can contribute up to $4,000 per election cycle.

Federal election records show Biden has about $675,000 in the bank -- roughly half the amount of U.S. Sen. Thomas R. Carper, the Delaware Democrat who will be running for his second term next year. Biden spent almost $3 million in 2002 when he defeated Republican Raymond J. Clatworthy for the second time.

With this new round of fund-raising, Biden continues to act like a Senate candidate and a presidential candidate. He took the Memorial Day weekend to make his fifth trip to Iraq in the last two years, along with other stops to observe the election in Lebanon and the refugees' exodus from Sudan.

Biden also continues to appear on the Sunday talk shows more than any other member of Congress, according to a tally kept by Roll Call, a newspaper that covers Capitol Hill.

Now if he can just see that son of his elected attorney general . . .