Shien Biau Woo

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Shien Biau Woo
21st Lieutenant Governor of Delaware
In office
January 15, 1985 – January 20, 1989
Governor Michael N. Castle
Preceded by Michael N. Castle
Succeeded by Dale E. Wolf
Personal details
Born (1937-08-13) August 13, 1937 (age 79)
Shanghai, Republic of China
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Katy K.N.
Residence Newark, Delaware
Alma mater Georgetown College
Washington University in St. Louis
Profession Professor
Shien Biau Woo
Traditional Chinese 吳仙標
Simplified Chinese 吴仙标

Shien Biau "S.B." Woo (born August 13, 1937) is an American professor and politician from Newark, in New Castle County, Delaware. He was a member of the Democratic Party and served as the 21st Lieutenant Governor of Delaware.

Early life and family[edit]

Woo's ancestral hometown is Yuyao, Ningbo, Zhejiang Province. He was born in 1937 in Shanghai, China.[1] He fled the communist revolution in 1949 with his parents and came to the United States at the age of 18 from Hong Kong. He received undergraduate degrees in Mathematics and Physics from Georgetown College in Kentucky and his PhD in Physics from Washington University in St. Louis.

He married in 1963 and has two children. In 1966, he joined the faculty of the University of Delaware, where he became a professor of physics and astronomy. He retired in 2002 after 36 years.

Political career[edit]

In his first attempt at public office, Woo was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1984. He won the Democratic primary election by defeating two veteran State Senators, Nancy W. Cook of Dover and David B. McBride, of New Castle. In the general election he narrowly defeated Republican Battle R. Robinson of Georgetown, who was the first woman to practice law in Sussex County, and the assistant legal counsel to retiring Governor Pierre S. du Pont, IV. Woo thus became one of the highest ranking Chinese-American public office holders in the nation and served one term from January 15, 1985 until January 20, 1989.

Woo narrowly won the Democratic primary election for U.S. Senator in 1988, defeating Samuel S. Beard, an heir to a railroad fortune, and resident of Greenville, Delaware. In fact, the election appeared to be lost until an error in the tabulation was discovered, which changed the result. Nevertheless, Woo lost the general election to the incumbent Republican U.S. Senator William V. Roth, Jr.. Likewise, in 1992, he was the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House, but lost the election to retiring Governor Michael N. Castle.

Woo became an Independent in 2000 and announced his intention not to accept a federal appointment in order to advance public perception of his neutrality without any personal partisan benefit.[2]

Professional career[edit]

Woo is a leader in the greater Chinese American community throughout the country from whom his political activities dependably received strong financial backing. He is the former president of the 80-20 Initiative, a group that attempts to organize Asian Pacific Americans (APAs) into a swing bloc-vote in presidential elections, intending to induce both major political parties to take the interests of the APA community into consideration. He also serves as a Professor Emeritus of Physics[3] and Trustee of the University of Delaware, and an Institute Fellow at the Institute of Politics, the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

A life-sized picture of him is displayed in Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington D.C.[4] Another picture of him is in an interactive display in the lobby of Asia Society in New York City. In 2000, A Magazine ranked him the 6th of the 25 Most Influential Asian Americans.


Elections are held the first Tuesday after November 1. The Lieutenant Governor takes office the third Tuesday of January and has a four-year term.

Public Offices
Office Type Location Elected Began office Ended office notes
Lt. Governor Executive Dover 1984 January 15, 1985 January 20, 1989

Election results
Year Office Election Subject Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes %
1984 Lt. Governor Primary Shien Biau Woo Democratic 14,131 42% Nancy W. Cook
David B. McBride
Democratic 10,590
1984 Lt. Governor General Shien Biau Woo Democratic 121,095 50% Battle R. Robinson Republican 120,666 50%
1988 U.S. Senator Primary Shien Biau Woo Democratic 20,225 50% Samuel S. Beard Democratic 20,154 50%
1988 U.S. Senator General Shien Biau Woo Democratic 92,378 38% William V. Roth, Jr. Republican 151,115 62%
1992 U.S. Representative Primary Shien Biau Woo Democratic 28,732 74% Ernest L. Ercole Democratic 10,329 26%
1992 U.S. Representative General Shien Biau Woo Democratic 117,426 43% Michael N. Castle Republican 153,037 55%



  • Cohen, Celia (2002). Only in Delaware, Politics and Politicians in the First State. Newark, Delaware: Grapevine Publishing. 
  • "Biography of Dr. S. B. Woo". Who's Who of Asian Americans. Retrieved September 1, 2006. 

External links[edit]

Places with more information[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
David N. Levinson
Democratic Party nominee for United States Senator (class 1) from Delaware
Succeeded by
Charles Oberly