Beau Biden was much more than just the son of the vice president.
He was building an impressive political legacy in his own right when his life was cut short by brain cancer. After serving as a legal advisor for the U.S. Department of Justice overseas in post-war Kosovo in 2001, Biden returned to private legal practice in Delaware before being elected as Delaware’s Attorney General in 2007.
He was an important part of his father’s election team when Joe Biden became Barack Obama’s vice-president in 2008. The younger Biden nominated his father at the convention that year.
His first term as Delaware Attorney General was interrupted in 2009 as Biden served a year-long deployment in Iraq with his Delaware National Guard unit. After returning from Iraq, Biden’s career was interrupted again, this time by a mild stroke. He seemed to bounce back from that scare, even flirting with the idea of running for his father’s old seat in the U.S. Senate in 2010. He decided against running for Senate in order to focus on prosecuting pedophile pediatrician Earl Bradley, who was eventually convicted of abusing more than one hundred patients.
In November 2010, Biden easily won a second term as Attorney General, but his term was interrupted again, this time by a 2013 health scare that was shrouded in secrecy. He was hospitalized at a Chicago-area hospital after feeling weak and disoriented while on vacation. He returned home to Delaware, but traveled a few days later to Houston for testing at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. It was later revealed that doctors removed a small brain lesion.
Despite all those interruptions, Biden’s career appeared to remain on track. He surprised some in April 2014 when he announced that he would not run for a third term as attorney general. Instead, Biden said he would be running for governor of Delaware in 2016.
With his pedigree and experience in the AG’s office Biden would likely have had a mainly clear path to victory, thanks in part to the state’s large Democratic advantage in voter registration. His health was never openly discussed. Some political watchers wondered about his health. His last public appearance was in November at the Georgetown parade that marked the end of the 2014 political season. He would tweet occasional photos with family or with political friends like Tom Gordon, New Castle County Executive.
Delaware Governor Jack Markell issued a statement recognizing Biden’s accomplishments in service of Delaware: “Beau spent his entire career in the service of his country and his state. He was an outstanding Attorney General, lawyer, soldier, and father. I feel privileged to have served with him and Delaware is a better place thanks to him.”