Senator Ted's Excellent Adventure
Ted Kaufman may not have a plan for his future after the Senate, but for the present, he is a man on a mission.
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In one of the subterranean hallways that honeycomb the Capitol building, Delaware’s junior senator, Edward “Ted” Kaufman, runs into first-term Senator Jon Tester of Montana. The garrulous, brush cut Montanan throws a beefy arm around the suddenly diminutive Kaufman and shouts effusively, “This is the nicest guy in the Senate.”
Given that both men have been on the job for only a few months, Tester’s remark offers an important insight as to how Delaware’s new Senate delegation may be one of the strongest one-two punches of any state, large or small, in the country.
Kaufman is no seat-warmer, either. In less than six months on the job, he has introduced or sponsored some 75 bills, amendments and resolutions.
“I came here already knowing my way around,” Kaufman says. He sits just outside the Senate chamber, awaiting a quorum call. “I have a lot of institutional knowledge of how things get done from my years as Joe Biden’s chief of staff.”
Rhode Island Democrat Jack Reed, who accompanied Kaufman on a recent trip to Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, agrees that Kaufman probably understands how the Senate operates “better than any other senator does.
“He’s a real gentleman, and smart, too,” he says. “No one uses him. His personal skills and experience are the sources of his strength. He’s a great asset to the [Democratic] caucus and the Senate.”
It was those skills and experience that had eventually led former Governor Ruth Ann Minner to move from asking for Kaufman’s advice on a replacement for Joe Biden to offering the position to Kaufman himself.
“I knew this appointment was for a short term and would need someone who wouldn’t have to spend all that time learning his or her way around,” Minner says. “That put Ted at the top of the list, given his years as Joe’s chief of staff, plus his knowledge of state people. I couldn’t have found anyone stronger.”
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