- The Washington Times - Friday, January 23, 2009

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. made his first trip back to his old stomping grounds Thursday, returning to the floor of the Senate to swear in new Sen. Michael Bennet, Colorado Democrat. The ceremony marked Mr. Biden’s official debut as president of the Senate, where he served six terms as a senator from Delaware.

Mr. Bennet, a lawyer by training, has been superintendent of Denver’s public schools since 2005, earning a national reputation as an education reformer. He replaces fellow Democrat Ken Salazar, who resigned his seat Tuesday after being confirmed as interior secretary in the Obama administration. Mr. Salazar stood beside his replacement as Mr. Bennet took the oath of office, his hand on a red Bible.

Mr. Bennet’s swearing-in leaves the Senate with two vacancies.

New York Gov. David Paterson has yet to name a replacement for Hillary Rodham Clinton, who resigned her seat late Wednesday as she took up her new post as secretary of state. And the Minnesota Senate seat is tied up in the courts, with incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman challenging a recount that gave Democratic challenger Al Franken a tiny lead in their November race.

One of the first to congratulate Mr. Bennet after his swearing-in was new Illinois Democratic Sen. Roland Burris, sworn in last week after a lengthy credentials battle to replace Mr. Obama.

Mr. Bennet, a former adviser to Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, was a bit of a surprise pick, selected over a number of better-known Democrats by Col. Gov. Bill Ritter. He will serve the remaining two years of Mr. Salazar’s term, and Colorado Republicans say they hope to mount a strong challenge to his re-election.

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