Since the weekend, media-presumed President Elect Joe Biden* has been looking at many prominent Californian politicians to fill positions in his cabinet. In addition to the upcoming need to fill the now-open Senate seat once held by Kamala Harris, Biden’s picks could lead to a massive shakeup of political positions across the state.
According to Politico, New York Magazine, the Washington Post, and other media outlets, the following lawmakers from California currently have a more than decent chance of being picked up by Biden for respective cabinet posts:
- California Attorney General Xavier Becerra – Homeland Security, Justice
- Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA) – Housing and Urban Development
- Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti – Transportation
- Executive and former California Governor candidate Meg Whitman (R) – Commerce
- California Labor Secretary Julie Su – Labor
- Congressman Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) – U.S. Trade Representative
- California Air Resources Board (CARB) Chairwoman Mary Nichols – Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Former Presidential Candidate Tom Steyer (D) – Unknown
- Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis – Unknown
- Governor Chief of Staff Ann O’Leary – Unknown
Biden’s current leading picks to a reliance on Washington insiders, but also to an over-reliance on Californian political leaders. Should all or most of these picks come to fruition, and another leading Californian politician such as Secretary of State Alex Padilla be elevated to Senator, the state may find itself in a major political bind.
With the Governor’s race being less than two years away, Gavin Newsom would have to find several people willing to serve in his own cabinet for less than two years if he isn’t reelected, meaning Newsom himself will need to raid the California Senate, Assembly, and perhaps even city governments to fill positions. A few open House seats would similarly need to find quick fills by January. With so many seats needing to be filled, this may trigger a record number of special elections in California in 2021.
A possible Californian political shakeup of 2021
“Best case scenario is that only a few Californians are picked and it can be easily transitioned,” Washington-based lobbyist Catherine Smith explained to the Globe. “Worst case scenario is that Biden all-out raids California, and Newsom, several House districts, and likely several local Senate and Assembly districts will have to pick up the pieces. Los Angeles too if Garcetti gets a spot. And who knows if anymore are tapped for undersecretary positions or ambassadorships. Biden and Harris have been very reliant on California, and this can cause California to face, and I hate to say this, a left-leaning politician shortage. Not a shortage-shortage, but more like a shortage of viable candidates, and not simply bridge appointees.
“Nobody is talking about this even though it’s extremely likely, at the very least, there’s going to be a shakeup.
“And if Newsom himself appoints himself to be the next Senator, then look at that – Who the hell is left to lead the state? It was a giant recall and shakeup that had the Republicans win the Governorship in 2003, and 2021 could change things enough to give them a decent shot in 2022 if they pick the right person. A lot is on the line here for California. Most outlets are just naming names on who may be picked or are excited that California will have so many people moved up. Nobody is thinking about the consequences of what that really means for the state if they lose so many people. California just had a huge election year in 2020. They now might have another one in 2021. And unlike 2020, all the positions affected were previously held by Democrats.”
While Biden has a diverse list of possible candidates from numerous states, California currently has by far the most named candidates. And the sheer number of Californians on at least the opening list for positions indicates that at least a few will be named in the coming weeks. But who they are, as well as how many of them, remains in question.
Who may be picked is still up in the air, but with a Biden-Harris administration, it is looking like California could experience some sort of shakeup in House, State, and even local positions in 2021.
*Editors note: The 2020 Presidential Election has not been certified, but was called for Joe Biden by the media.
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