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An early look at who might be in Biden's inner circle in the White House

Many of Biden's longtime advisers — and some relatively new faces — may be set to join him in the White House.
House Homeland Security Subcommittee Hearing On Community Perspectives On Coronavirus Preparedness And Response
Ron Klain, former White House Ebola response coordinator, at a House Homeland Security subcommittee hearing on March 10.Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden is focused on building the team that will enter the White House with him on Inauguration Day, his “Day One staff,” as he looks to fill several thousand jobs in his administration, according to multiple people familiar with the process.

Biden plans to announce these positions likely later this week. Longtime Biden adviser Ron Klain is among those leading the effort to fill these roughly 200 positions in the White House and at some key government agencies, these people said. Once that’s complete, they said Biden will turn to building out his Cabinet.

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The contenders for these “Day One” jobs range from Biden loyalists — some who have worked for him since his first run for office 50 years ago — to a group of relatively new aides who joined his 2020 campaign. Here’s an initial look at some of those expected to play big roles.

Ron Klain: A former chief of staff to Biden during his first years as vice president, Klain also coordinated the Obama administration’s response to the Ebola outbreak, giving him both familiarity with Biden and important credentials as the Covid-19 response will consume Biden’s opening months. Biden insiders expect him to serve as White House chief of staff.

Kate Bedingfield: The Democratic communications operative joined Biden’s vice presidential office in 2015 as he closed in on a final decision on the 2016 presidential race, quickly earning his trust. As deputy campaign manager and communications director, she is expected to serve in a similar role in the West Wing.

Jake Sullivan: A former national security adviser to Biden as vice president, Sullivan has also played a lead role in the campaign by crafting his domestic policy agenda alongside Stef Feldman, another veteran of the Biden vice presidential office. Sullivan is said to prefer a domestic policy role, perhaps on the Domestic Policy Council.

Tony Blinken: A former deputy secretary of state and longtime Biden foreign policy adviser, he is a favorite to serve either as national security adviser or potentially secretary of state as the Biden team weighs the makeup of Cabinet posts.

Bruce Reed: Another former Biden chief of staff, he has been one of the members of the inner circle who has spent the most time with the president-elect on the campaign trail and would likely be a versatile policy adviser in the West Wing.

Cedric Richmond: The young Louisiana congressman was a day-one co-chairman of Biden’s campaign, a key bridge to Democrats in Congress and a prominent national surrogate. With his relationships on Capitol Hill and loyalty to Biden through early, difficult moments of the Democratic primary campaign — especially on flashpoints on race — he’s likely to be in the conversation for a top West Wing perch or Cabinet position, if he does not look to move up the ranks on Capitol Hill.

Symone Sanders: Her fierce public advocacy for Biden and nose-to-the-grindstone work ethic behind the scenes quickly earned the trust of Biden’s tight inner circle. Sanders wrote in her memoir that she one day wanted to be White House press secretary, and if that becomes reality, she would be the youngest and first Black woman ever in the post.

Steve Ricchetti: Another former Biden vice presidential chief of staff, the Ohioan played an important but largely under-the-radar role for Biden's presidential campaign in maintaining relationships with Democratic stakeholders and donors. Ricchetti would likely continue that formally or informally in Biden’s White House.

Yohannes Abraham and Jeff Zients: As the day-to-day taskmaskers of Biden’s transition team for months, the duo could transition themselves into top West Wing or administration perches. Abraham served all eight years in the Obama White House, ultimately as chief of staff for the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs. Zients served as acting director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Barack Obama and director of the National Economic Council.

Players without titles: Mike Donilon, the campaign’s chief strategist, may not take a formal West Wing post but will always be a sounding board for Biden — a role he’s played for decades. The president-elect’s sister, Valerie Biden Owens, will always have his ultimate trust. And former Delaware Sen. Ted Kaufman, helming Biden’s transition team, will also continue to offer counsel.