Ballotpedia’s Weekly Transition Tracker: November 14-20, 2020

Transition Tracker Weekly by Ballotpedia

Welcome to Ballotpedia’s Weekly Transition Tracker

November 20, 2020

Former Vice President Joe Biden (D) is the projected winner of the 2020 presidential election. The Electoral College will meet on December 14, 2020, to vote for the next president of the United States.

In 2016, there were 1,714 government positions subject to presidential appointment: 1,242 positions required Senate confirmation and 472 did not. Every week, Ballotpedia is tracking potential Cabinet nominees, appointments, and news related to the Biden presidential transition.

Our next weekly edition will arrive on December 4. Click here to subscribe to the Daily Transition Tracker.


Appointments and Nominations

Biden announced the following nine appointees who will serve as White House senior staff on Wednesday. 

Jen O’Malley Dillon, White House deputy chief of staff

Jen O’Malley Dillon, Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign manager, will be deputy chief of staff. O’Malley Dillon is a former executive director of the Democratic National Committee and a founding partner of the Democratic consulting firm Precious Strategies. She led Beto O’Rourke’s 2020 presidential campaign before joining Biden’s.

Cedric Richmond, senior adviser

Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) will leave Congress to work as a senior adviser focused on public engagement. He will conduct outreach to grassroots organizations, public interest and advocacy groups, the business community, and climate change activists. Richmond was a national co-chair of Biden’s presidential campaign. 

Richmond’s congressional district, Louisiana’s 2nd, is rated Solid Democratic. Vacancies are filled by special elections.

Steve Ricchetti, counselor to the president

Steve Ricchetti, a longtime Biden aide, will serve as counselor to the president—a role currently held by Hope Hicks and Derek Lyons in the Trump administration. Ricchetti worked for Biden during the Obama administration, serving as his chief of staff in 2013.

Anthony Bernal, senior advisor to Dr. Jill Biden

Anthony Bernal was a deputy campaign manager for the Biden presidential campaign and Jill Biden’s chief of staff. He has worked with the Bidens for more than a decade, including as director of scheduling and trip director for Jill Biden during the Obama administration.

Mike Donilon, senior advisor to the president

Mike Donilon was chief strategist for the Biden presidential campaign. Prior to joining the campaign, Donilon was the managing director of the Biden Institute. He has worked on six presidential campaigns.

Dana Remus, White House counsel

Dana Remus was general counsel for the Biden presidential campaign. She previously worked as general counsel for the Obama Foundation. She was also the deputy assistant to the president and deputy counsel of ethics during the Obama administration. She clerked for Republican-nominated Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.

Julissa Reynoso Pantaleon, chief of staff to Dr. Jill Biden

Julissa Reynoso Pantaleon served as the U.S. ambassador to Uruguay and deputy assistant secretary of state during the Obama administration. She is a partner at Winston & Strawn and previously worked on the faculty of Columbia Law School and Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs.

Julie Chavez Rodriguez, director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs

Julie Chavez Rodriguez was a deputy campaign manager for the Biden presidential campaign. She previously worked on the Harris presidential campaign as the national political director and traveling chief of staff. In the Obama administration, Chavez Rodriguez was a special assistant to the president and senior deputy director of public engagement.

Annie Tomasini, director of Oval Office Operations

Annie Tomasini is Biden’s traveling chief of staff. She has worked for Biden for over a decade, including as his deputy press secretary during the Obama administration and as press secretary when Biden was the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.


Potential Nominees

  • Biden said on Thursday that he had selected his nominee for secretary of the Treasury and will make an announcement early next week. Federal Reserve Board member Lael Brainard, former Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen, and former Federal Reserve Board member Roger Ferguson Jr. are on the shortlist, according to The New York Times.
  • Bloomberg reported that Gary Gensler, the former chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara were in consideration to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Other potential candidates named in the article were former SEC commissioner Kara Stein, SEC commissioner Allison Lee, former Treasury official Michael Barr, Georgetown Law professor Chris Brummer, and former SEC commissioner Robert Jackson Jr.
  • Politico described Michèle Flournoy as the “consensus choice among establishment Washington” for secretary of defense. Flournoy was the undersecretary of defense during President Barack Obama’s first term in office.
  • Politico also reported that Biden was considering Sen. Angus King (Maine), an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, for director of national intelligence. Maine is one of 37 states where Senate vacancies are filled by gubernatorial appointment until the next statewide general election. Maine Gov. Janet Mills is a Democrat. 
  • NPR reported that John Jones, a former chief of staff to Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), is being considered for the position of director of the Office of Management and Budget. Jones also worked as an aide to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). He is vice president of government relations for the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts.
  • The Biden Transition is vetting Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) for secretary of the interior, according to The Hill. If selected, she would be the first Native American Cabinet secretary. Haaland’s district, New Mexico’s 1st, is rated Safe Democratic. House vacancies are filled by special elections.
  • The Hill reported the following officials were candidates to lead the Bureau of Land Management (BLM): longtime BLM official Steve Ellis, Audubon Society lawyer Nada Culver, and former BLM director Neil Kornze.
  • CBS News called Tony Blinken, Biden’s campaign adviser on global issues, the frontrunner for secretary of state.
  • Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel are in consideration for secretary of transportation.

News

  • Forty progressive groups—including MoveOn, Color of Change, and the Sunrise Movement—published a list of 400 recommended candidates for what they called “the most powerful positions nobody’s ever heard of” in government.
  • Biden hired former Obama White House communications director Jen Psaki to lead a team overseeing the Senate confirmation process for his nominees. “The new team is also looking to shake up some of the conventions of the Cabinet nomination process, including the code of silence that has traditionally surrounded nominees. Instead, transition staff intend to introduce Biden’s Cabinet picks to the American people before their Senate hearings, which could include media blitzes to build up public support. There’s a risk, however, that the increased exposure could lead to embarrassing gaffes or missteps by nominees,” Politico reported.
  • Three Republican senators indicated they are willing to confirm Biden’s Cabinet nominees. Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah) said that a “president ought to be able to pick his or her Cabinet barring someone who is out of the mainstream of either party.” Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) said she would give “great latitude” to the president. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) similarly said, “Our job, our role is to make sure that he selects folks that are … within the mainstream. And are good, qualified credible candidates. And if he does that, sure, I am going to work with him.”
  • Georgia completed its statewide audit of its presidential election results on Thursday. Biden leads Trump by 12,284 votes and is the projected winner according to a consensus call from ABC News, CNN, Fox News, NBC News, and The New York Times.
  • Politico reported that the Biden transition has raised more than $8 million to cover costs and payroll associated with the transition. It will not have access to public funding set aside for presidential transitions until the General Services Administration ascertains the election.

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About the author

Emily Aubert

Emily Aubert is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

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