Biden adds four co-chairs alongside his longtime confidant and former Delaware senator Ted Kaufman: Jeffrey Zients, Obama’s top economic adviser tasked with saving the failing website HealthCare.gov; New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, whom Biden considered for the vice-presidential nomination; Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond, one of Biden’s top backups and his campaign’s national co-chair; and Anita Dunn, Senior Campaign Advisor.
He also brought in a 15-person advisory board, which includes a former 2020 Democratic presidential rival, former South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg.
This council also includes a running mate, former national security adviser Susan Rice; Vivek Murthy, the US surgeon general to former President Barack Obama who advised Biden’s campaign on campaign politics and tactics amid the coronavirus pandemic; and Sally Yates, former assistant attorney general.
The measures come as Biden’s transition team is laying the groundwork – if Biden defeats President Donald Trump this fall – for government appointments and actions in nearly five months amid rapidly evolving health and economic crises and a national record of racial injustice.
Adding to the degree of difficulty, he said, is that “this will be the first virtual transition in the history of the United States.”
Biden’s transition team this week signed a memorandum of understanding with Trump’s General Service Administration, a legally required document that formalizes how the federal government will assist Biden’s team in preparing for elections and, if he wins, thereafter.
The work of the transition teams is intensified after the conclusion of political party agreements, when they have access to government infrastructure support and can request security clearances.
“We are preparing for this transition in the context of a global health crisis and a struggling economy. This is a transition like no other, and the team being assembled will help Joe Biden address the pressing challenges our country faces from day one, ”Kaufman said in a report. “The Co-Chairs, Advisory Board and Senior Executives are a diverse group of experts who are committed to helping a potential Biden-Harris administration overcome the public health crisis and put Americans back to work in well-paying jobs. . ”
The other members of the advisory board are Tony Allen, the historically president of Black Delaware State University; Biden’s veteran economic adviser Jared Bernstein; former Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell; former US Ambassador to Romania Mark Gitenstein; environmentalist Cecilia Martinez; former Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald; veteran Democrat Minyon Moore; union leaders Teresa Romero of the United Farm Workers and Lonnie Stephenson of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; Cathy Russell, former chief of staff to Jill Biden whom Obama has appointed to a new post: Goodwill Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues; and Felicia Wong, president of the Roosevelt Institute.
Biden’s transition team is also strengthening its day-to-day staff, which is managed by Yohannes Abraham.
Cynthia Hogan, a longtime assistant to Biden and a former Apple lobbyist who helped lead his search process for a vice president, is one of a group of eight new senior hires joining the staff. Other additions include Cecilia Muñoz, head of the Obama White House’s Home Policy Council; as well as veteran political and political Democrats Tanya Bradsher, Suzy George, Don Graves, Jessica Hertz, Tara McGuinness and Darla Pomeroy. Graves and Pomeroy are also former Biden staff.
The presence of longtime Biden allies like Kaufman and Hogan and veterans of Democratic politics like Zients, Rice, Murthy and Muñoz could help Biden’s transition team develop plans that would stay in place if Biden beat Trump. .
In 2016, Trump’s transition team faced unrest almost immediately after the election, when former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie – who had led the effort – was dropped as campaign advisers Trump have resumed the effort.
Marchick said Biden had been wise to select Richmond and Dunn, who are deeply involved in his campaign, and others who advised his campaign.
“They learned pain points from previous transitions and have plans to tackle all of these issues to avoid them in the future,” he said.