fb-pixel

Biden to name campaign manager, congressional ally, and close friend to key staff jobs

Jennifer O'Malley Dillon, pictured above, served as Joe Biden's campaign manager.
Jennifer O'Malley Dillon, pictured above, served as Joe Biden's campaign manager.Andre Chung/For The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden will formally announce key members of his White House staff Tuesday, naming Rep. Cedric L. Richmond of Louisiana to oversee public outreach and installing Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, who managed his presidential campaign, as a deputy chief of staff, a person familiar with the transition said.

Biden will also announce that Steve Ricchetti, a longtime confidant, will serve in the White House as a counselor to the president. All three will most likely have offices down the hall from the Oval Office, making them among the most senior aides in the West Wing.

Richmond will inherit a job once held by Valerie Jarrett in the Obama administration. Kellyanne Conway was President Donald Trump’s counselor, the job Ricchetti will take. And O’Malley Dillon will probably oversee White House operations for Biden.

Advertisement



A spokesperson for the transition declined to comment. A person familiar with the transition planning said the three appointments would be announced along with other members of the president-elect’s staff.

Decisions about Cabinet secretaries remain several weeks away, according to people close to Biden, who has spent several days during the past week in closed-door discussions with advisers about the challenge of winning confirmation fights if the Senate remains in Republican control next year.

By contrast, White House staff positions do not require Senate confirmation, leaving the president-elect wide latitude.

The announcements come as Biden moves quickly to establish his governing agenda and the team he will need to put it into effect once he takes office. The president-elect is under pressure to fill those jobs with people of diverse ethnic and ideological backgrounds, making good on promises he made during his campaign.

But the appointments of Richmond, O’Malley Dillon and Ricchetti — all loyal lieutenants to Biden — suggest the importance that he is also placing on surrounding himself with people whose advice he implicitly trusts.

Advertisement



Richmond, who served as a national co-chairman of Biden's campaign and was an early supporter, had been widely expected to join the Biden White House. He brings with him deep relationships across Capitol Hill. His new job was reported earlier by Bloomberg.

Richmond, a Democrat whose district includes most of New Orleans, has set a news conference for Tuesday where he is expected to announce he is leaving Congress. In a brief phone call Monday night, he laughingly declined to confirm that he was joining Biden’s staff but acknowledged that he would discuss his “future” Tuesday.

Richmond was formerly the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, and he has a close relationship with Rep. James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., whose endorsement in February helped revive Biden’s campaign. Richmond’s district is safely Democratic, and his departure from Congress is unlikely to cost the party another seat after an election where their majority was weakened.

Richmond is likely to have broad responsibilities in his senior role and will continue to interact with Congress, according to people familiar with the transition. Others said they expected him to serve as one of the people most willing to give the new president frank and candid advice behind closed doors.

O’Malley Dillon, a veteran of former President Barack Obama’s campaigns, has been credited with steering Biden’s presidential bid through the difficulties of the pandemic and the challenge of running against an unpredictable rival like Trump. Her appointment was reported earlier by NBC News.

Advertisement



She assumed the role of campaign manager in mid-March, just as the severity of the coronavirus outbreak was becoming clear to many Americans. Two days after she was named to the role, Biden campaign offices around the country shut down. She learned to remotely navigate the team factions and transformed a shoestring primary operation into a general election organization.

O’Malley Dillon’s team faced criticism and second-guessing over the light footprint Biden’s campaign maintained in key battleground states during the pandemic, and throughout the campaign there were tensions between some of the earliest Biden aides and those she brought in as she built the team.

But she was respected inside the campaign for streamlining and organizing what had been a small and underfunded operation.

Ricchetti is a close adviser and longtime lobbyist who has been by Biden’s side for years. He lobbied for the pharmaceutical industry and served as Biden’s chief of staff when he was the vice president.

As one of Biden’s most trusted advisers and a longtime member of his tight-knit inner circle, Ricchetti is expected to have a broad portfolio and a senior role within the administration. During the campaign, he maintained deep relationships across Capitol Hill and in the donor community, sometimes serving as a kind of gatekeeper to the campaign for Democratic heavyweights.

Biden is likely to move quickly on other key White House jobs as well.

He still has to assemble a communications team, including a press secretary. Among the possible candidates is Symone Sanders, one of his top communications advisers during the campaign.

Advertisement



The president-elect will also have to choose a White House counsel, a key job in an era of divided government. Dana Remus, who worked in the counsel’s office during Obama’s tenure, was the chief lawyer for Biden’s campaign.

And Biden will need to choose aides to oversee national security, homeland security and economics in his White House. Announcements on some of those could also come as soon as Tuesday.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.