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Sun Oct 25, 2020, 04:05 AM

NYMag: Here's Who Biden Is Considering for Top Jobs in His Administration [View all]


The overwhelming bulk of Biden’s operation is sincerely still dedicated to winning the race against Donald Trump, which even his top advisers insist is likely to be closer than public polling suggests. But private materials sketching out possible administration appointments and a series of conversations between New York and very senior Democrats in and around the Biden campaign and transition reveal that these talks and plans, led largely by Biden loyalists and Obama White House alums preparing for a messier-than-usual transition period, are actually rather advanced — at least enough so that if Biden were to clearly win in November, his operation would be in position to somewhat swiftly stand up a new administration and Cabinet even if Trump drags his feet on cooperating.

A few weeks ago, Biden’s inner circle warned candidates for high-profile Cabinet gigs that they better stop being so obvious about jockeying for jobs while Trump could still win — in keeping with the general campaign strategy to lie low, avoid handing the president any political ammunition, and instead let him implode on his own. But according to Democrats familiar with the work, behind closed doors the transition team has been measuring out just how much rebuilding is necessary at the White House and government agencies. They’re considering not just top-level Cabinet appointments but lining up possible candidates for little-known bureaucratic roles, too — in part the kind of work any responsible transition might be doing, but also a reaction to Trump’s four years of destruction. And they’re also making contingency plans for transitioning to a new administration if the outgoing Trump team won’t help, as exiting functionaries are expected to in a sane political universe.

Biden has nearly half-a-century worth of friends in Washington, but people close to him say that, rather than installing them in the government’s most powerful positions, he could push those senator buddies to the kinds of comfy ambassador gigs usually reserved for top donors, and instead make good on his repeated campaign-trail promise to serve as a “bridge” to a younger generation of pols and bureaucrats. He and his advisers have repeatedly promised to build the most diverse Cabinet ever, and they’ve been preparing for intense pressure — especially from progressives — to steer clear of corporate and moderate appointments wherever possible after Trump leaned heavily on such picks (for example, Biden would face huge disappointment from his left if he tapped Quibi CEO Meg Whitman, a Republican, for Commerce secretary, as some close to him have suggested). They’re thinking twice before floating bankers for economic roles, too. It also means they’re wary of even seriously considering Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar, a close Biden ally, for attorney general given her prosecutorial record — to which many Black activists have objected.

Some prominent campaign supporters appear to still be in line for jobs. Delaware senator Chris Coons, an extremely close Biden ally, is likely to get a look as a potential secretary of State if he doesn’t prefer serving as Biden’s eyes and ears in the Senate (and if he does become the country’s top diplomat, that might leave his Senate seat open for Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester, a Biden campaign chair). Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti, another campaign chair, is likely to be seriously considered for secretary of Transportation and perhaps Labor if he’s not derailed by a report that he was aware of the sexual misconduct of one of his top advisers, according to Democrats familiar with some of the preliminary planning. Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, another highly valued campaign surrogate, has been talked about as a possible Housing secretary, and Pete Buttigieg — whom the Biden orbit credits with helping the ex-VP close out the Democratic primary, and who is now advising the transition team after playing Mike Pence in Kamala Harris’s debate-prep sessions — has been discussed as a potential ambassador to the U.N., which would entail a convenient relocation for the former mayor to a blue state full of donors, in case he wants to run for something statewide in more hospitable territory for Democrats at some point. He’s also been mentioned as a contender for secretary of Veterans Affairs. Elizabeth Warren, who has kept in close touch with Biden on COVID-19 recovery policy, is seen as less likely to get a formal cabinet job, in part because many Biden advisers worry there’s no obvious fit that wouldn’t concern a big swath of the candidate’s moderate backers, and at least partially because Massachusetts’s Republican governor would get to pick her replacement in the Senate.

Biden himself has not taken part in serious talks with his transition team about the top Cabinet posts, and his top political advisers have also been treading carefully on the topic even behind the scenes, confident that they’ll have more of a say in November, if Biden wins. (“A diverse, experienced, and talented team will help Joe Biden and Kamala Harris prepare to get the pandemic under control and build our economy back better on day one,” said a transition spokesman. “No decisions, from personnel to policy, will be made until after the election.”) We can, however, use the documents and insights from Democrats close to Biden to start piecing together some of the cabinet puzzle already. Here’s who’s likely to be considered for the absolute top jobs.

Some great choices!!

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Reply NYMag: Here's Who Biden Is Considering for Top Jobs in His Administration [View all]
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