The former top aide to the vice president-elect has said he will not run for reelection in two years, prompting speculation that he is simply keeping the seat warm for Biden's son, Delaware attorney general Beau Biden. Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner's decision to appoint Kaufman, who is seen as loyal to Biden, to the seat prompted grumbling about a "backroom deal" in Delaware.
But the 69-year-old Kaufman, who was sworn in this morning, said his relationship with the soon-to-be vice president will give him leverage with colleagues who might otherwise dismiss him.
"That's a lot better than a poke in the eye with a stick," he joked to the Associated Press, which notes that Kaufman has requested assignments to the judiciary and foreign relations committees, both of which Biden chaired.
Kaufman's views closely mirror those of his former boss, and he will look to continue much of Biden's work, such as helping steer financial aide to college students.
"I would not have taken this thing at this point in my life if I didn't think there were things down there that I could accomplish," he told the AP.