CLW and Joe Biden: The Early Years

I’d like to share with you the role that the Council for a Livable World played in the election of Joe Biden to the United States Senate in 1972.  I had Co-Chaired the Eugene McCarthy campaign in Delaware in 1968. In 1970, a young man named Joe Biden decided to run for a seat on the New Castle County Council. I worked on that campaign and Joe Biden won – in a year that the Democrats did not do well at all. In fact, Joe’s Council seat was the highest office we won throughout the State that year.

August 27, 2008  

By Sonia Sloan

I’d like to share with you the role that the Council for a Livable World played in the election of Joe Biden to the United States Senate in 1972.

I had Co-Chaired the Eugene McCarthy campaign in Delaware in 1968. In 1970, a young man named Joe Biden decided to run for a seat on the New Castle County Council. I worked on that campaign and Joe Biden won – in a year that the Democrats did not do well at all. In fact, Joe’s Council seat was the highest office we won throughout the State that year.

Our Democratic State Chairman appointed the Democratic Renewal Commission to try and find out what happened and why the Party had done so poorly in that election. Former Governor Elbert Carvel was the Chairman of the Commission and I was the Secretary and members of the Commission included the newly elected Council member, Joe Biden, and other prominent Democrats. We spent nine months traveling up and down the State, talking to Democrats in all the cities and little towns, finding out about their concerns and what they wanted and expected from the candidates and their leaders.

I learned during those many months how bright, intelligent, and committed Joe Biden was – and how he cared so deeply about the people of this State.

One evening, when the Commission’s work was done, Joe asked me to meet with him. He told me he wanted to run for the United States Senate against the incumbent Cale Boggs. Boggs had been Governor, Congressman and then Senator. I remember telling Joe “ you’re crazy – nobody wants to run against him – it is an uphill battle”. Joe’s reply was “I am going to do it- will you help me?” And of course I said yes.

Shortly after Joe started his campaign, I got a call from a gentleman at the Council for a Livable World. I assumed that he called me because of the McCarthy campaign and my involvement as a Vice President of the National New Democratic Coalition. He told me this young candidate for the U.S. Senate had come to the Council for a contribution for his campaign . I was asked if I knew Joe Biden and what I thought of him. I was, of course, delighted to be able to say that I knew him well and to give Joe a ringing endorsement. As a result, the Council gave Joe Biden his first major endorsement and campaign contribution.

Joe and I have talked about this over the years and I thought the Council for a Livable World might like to know that an important role it played in helping to start Joe on his political career – culminating today in his nomination for Vice President on the Democratic ticket.

Council note:
Almost 50 years ago, Council for a Livable World pioneered a system for helping progressive congressional candidates get elected to office. Over the last 44 years, we have helped elect 113 U.S. arms control candidates to the Senate and 151 candidates to the House of Representatives. Council supporters, now over 40,000 strong, provide more funds to opponents of the arms race than any other arms control organization in America: over $1.5 million in 2006.

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