KEY POINTS

  • Tony Blinken, Ron Klain among the more recognizable names
  • If appointed, Symone Sanders would be the first Black woman and youngest press secretary
  • Jake Sullivan, who allegedly met secretly with Iranians ahead of nuclear talks under Obama, could land a job.

Tony Blinken, the former U.S. deputy secretary of state under President Barack Obama, and Ron Klain, who led Obama’s response to the Ebola outbreak, are among the handful of people who could fill out the ranks of the incoming Biden administration.

While legal challenges from President Donald Trump’s campaign team continue, and with the agency meant to facilitate a peaceful transition of power yet to ascertain the results, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are already working to build up their administration, assuming the vote count in the Electoral College stands.

Tony Blinken, Obama’s former deputy secretary of state and deputy national security advisor, could become the next secretary of state or national security advisor for the incoming administration, according to a Monday report from NBC News. A long-time government official, Blinken had similar roles under President Bill Clinton.

Ron Klain was one of Biden’s chiefs of staff during his first term as vice president under Obama and held the same position for former Vice President Al Gore. He helped steer Obama’s response to the Ebola outbreak  in 2014, a qualification that could be useful in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. NBC suggests Klain could be President-elect Biden’s chief of staff.

Steve Ricchetti served as a lobbyist between roles in the Clinton and Obama administrations. His appointment as a counselor to then-Vice President Biden raised eyebrows in 2012 because Obama pledged not to appoint lobbyists. He was one of the planners for Biden when he considered a bid for the White House in 2016 and could serve in the Biden administration as a point man between Democratic figures and donors.

NBC reports that Symone Sanders may become the youngest and the first Black woman to serve as the White House press secretary. Sanders, 30, was the press secretary for Bernie Sanders when the Vermont senator launched his bid for the White House in 2016. She later worked as a political commentator for cable news outlet CNN.

Jake Sullivan could serve as a domestic policy advisor in the Biden administration. In 2014, under President Obama, Sullivan served as a senior advisor to talks that ultimately led to a multilateral nuclear agreement with Iran, meeting secretly with Iranian representatives as early as 2012. He also clerked for Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer.

According to NBC, Kate Bedingfield could serve as a communications director in the Biden White House, a role similar to the one she held in the Biden campaign this election cycle. She scuffled with CNN anchor Jake Clapper in October for making misleading comments that appointing a Supreme Court Justice during an election year, as was the case with Amy Coney Barrett, ran afoul of the Constitution.

Political operative Bruce Reed is expected to be a top policy adviser to the Biden administration. In 2011, he replaced Klain as then-Vice President Biden’s chief of staff. In announcing the appointment, Biden said he’d “known and admired Bruce for over 20 years.” Reed was a deputy campaign manager for the Clinton-Gore campaign and served on Gore’s staff when the former vice president was in the Senate representing Tennessee (1985-89).

U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., could land a role in the Biden administration, NBC reports. The former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, he was named as a co-chair to the Biden-Harris transition team in September.

Yohannes Abraham has a long career serving for Obama and Biden and could be in line for another role in the White House. He was in the Obama White House Office of Legislative Affairs during the passage of the former president’s signature healthcare initiative, the Affordable Care Act.

Jeff Zients is another contender for a high-ranking post in the next administration. Like Abraham, he earned a reputation as a fixer of sorts after the ACA’s website, healthcare.gov, suffered setbacks during the initial rollout in 2013.

Rounding out NBC’s list of would-be advice-givers are Mike Donilon, a chief strategist for the Biden-Harris campaign and a one-time advisor for then Vice President Biden, Valerie Biden Owens, the president-elect’s sister who’s considered his “political alter ego,” and former Sen. Ted Kaufman, D-Del., who’s worked in some capacity with Biden since the early 1970s.

Biden is expected to officially secure the 270 votes needed in the Electoral College when electors vote Dec. 14. Inauguration Day is Jan. 20, 2021.

US President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris celebrate victory on Saturday US President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris celebrate victory on Saturday Photo: AFP / Jim WATSON