These eight Californians could get jobs in the Biden administration


Only a few people really know who will end up serving in President Biden’s administration — and they aren’t saying.

That hasn’t stopped rampant speculation. Everyone likes to say they were considered for a position, and it doesn’t seem to matter whether it was serious.

As in most situations, California is in the thick of it.

One Californian, Julie Chávez Rodríguez, an Obama administration veteran and granddaughter of César Chávez, already has been tapped to serve as director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.


Here are eight other Californians whose names are floating around:

Julie Su
Julie Su was previously state labor commissioner.
(Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

Julie Su, state Labor and Workforce Development Agency secretary

Su’s name has come up repeatedly as a potential nominee for Biden’s Labor secretary.

She served as state labor commissioner from 2011-18 before she was named to lead California’s workforce agency, which has managed millions more unemployment claims this year than normal because of the pandemic.

Before that, Su was litigation director for the Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California and co-founded Sweatshop Watch. She has the backing of prominent Asian American groups concerned that Biden won’t name an Asian American to his Cabinet.

Former United Farm Workers President Arturo Rodriguez

Some congressional Democrats and Latino advocacy groups are urging Biden to consider former longtime United Farm Workers President Arturo Rodriguez as his Agriculture secretary pick.

If appointed, Rodriguez would be the first Latino Agriculture secretary in U.S. history. Historically the secretary of Agriculture has been a politician or been connected with the business side of agriculture, and Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) said picking Rodriguez, who spent 45 years working with farm workers, would send a powerful message from Biden.


“It would affirm that Joe Biden is a president who, as he has demonstrated before, is looking out for the working man and woman,” Castro said. “The appointment of somebody like Arturo would be breaking the mold in a way whose time has come.”

Rep. Jimmy Gomez
Rep. Jimmy Gomez helped modify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles)

Gomez’s name keeps popping up as a possible U.S. trade representative.

Gomez, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, worked with the Trump administration in 2019 to modify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which ultimately passed in a bipartisan vote.

Gomez won a second term representing his solidly blue district by a large margin in November. But with such a slim Democratic majority in the House, Biden may not want to make it even narrower, at least for several months.

Rep. Karen Bass
Rep. Karen Bass’ name has been mentioned for at least three major jobs — including head of Housing and Urban Development.
(Michael Tran / Getty Images)

Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles)

Bass, who was on Biden’s list of possible candidates for vice president, is expected to be considered for a plum administration post, possibly secretary of Housing and Urban Development.


Her name has also come up as a possible U.S. ambassador to the United Nations given her longtime presence on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where she chairs the subcommittee that oversees Africa and global health issues.

Bass is approaching a term limit as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and doesn’t have a spot in House leadership. Some prominent Black organizations are also pushing for Gov. Gavin Newsom to pick her to replace Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in the Senate.

California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra
Supporters hope state Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra will be named to lead the Justice Department or join the Senate.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra

Several Latino advocacy organizations are pushing Becerra for U.S. attorney general.

Becerra replaced Harris as state attorney general when she won her Senate seat in 2016. If chosen, Becerra would be the second Latino to lead the U.S. Justice Department.

Becerra spent the last four years suing to stop various Trump administration actions, including the orders to end Obama-era legal protections for people brought to the country illegally as children, and efforts to restrict Muslim immigration.

California’s relationship with the federal government is expected to change dramatically with a Democrat in the White House. After more than 100 lawsuits, Becerra would be well-positioned to defend the executive branch in court.


Becerra, a former House member, is also among those thought to be on Newsom’s list for California’s next senator.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank)

Trump’s top antagonist during the impeachment saga has been floated for potential leadership roles in the intelligence community.

But supporters acknowledge that Schiff would have a hard time getting confirmed for, well, anything if Republicans maintain control of the Senate.

Schiff, who heads the House Intelligence Committee, is among those eyeing a possible move to the Senate, or perhaps up the leadership ladder in the House. So this one is probably just speculation.

California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols with Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Mary Nichols has been mentioned for the Environmental Protection Agency or an advisory role.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Mary Nichols, Air Resources Board chair

Nichols, who is well-regarded by environmental activists, could be tapped to lead the Environmental Protection Agency or become a top advisor in the White House.

She could be particularly attractive because of her experience with the Trump administration’s attempts to revoke California’s authority to set vehicle emissions standards that are stricter than federal standards.

Trump succeeded in weakening that authority, but Biden and his EPA head could try to reinstate the rules without Congress.

Nichols’ term on the state Air Resources Board expires in January, and she has experience in the EPA. She has served as an assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation in the Clinton administration and in various other environmental posts since the 1970s.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

Garcetti, a longtime friend of Biden and co-chair of his presidential campaign, has been floated as a possible Transportation secretary or for another unspecified senior role in the administration.


But Garcetti has two years left in his term, and leaving L.A. in the middle of a pandemic — a moment of crisis for the city as tourism and tax dollars dry up — would likely be a hard decision.

Times staff writer Jennifer Haberkorn contributed to this report.