Racial minority caucuses wrestle for spots in possible Clinton Cabinet

Racial minority caucuses wrestle for spots in possible Clinton Cabinet
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If she’s elected president next week, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats worry negative images are defining White House Heller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll MORE has pledged that 50 percent of her Cabinet will be female — but she’s under enormous pressure to ensure racial diversity as well.


The congressional Hispanic, Asian and black caucuses recently held separate meetings with Clinton’s transition team to put forward names of minority candidates for Cabinet and high-ranking administration posts, The Hill has learned. Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who is heading the transition team, attended some of those meetings.

Clinton’s Cabinet picks would be among her first decisions as the president-elect, setting the tone for a new administration that would likely owe a huge debt to the minority constituencies that are expected to overwhelmingly back her over Republican nominee Donald TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 committee chair says panel will issue a 'good number' of additional subpoenas Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Pentagon officials prepare for grilling Biden nominates head of Africa CDC to lead global AIDS response MORE on Election Day.

“Secretary Clinton’s view of the world is inclusion. It’s an indispensable part of her character and the Democratic Party now,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), who attended a meeting earlier this year between black congressional leaders and top Clinton aides.

Here are some of the names the so-called Tri-Caucus — the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and Congressional Black Caucus — has floated to Clinton’s team, according to sources.

Congressional Hispanic Caucus

Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) leaders view the appointment of Salazar as a sign that Hispanics would be strongly represented in Clinton’s Cabinet.

CHC Whip Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) told The Hill that Salazar gave the group “assurances” that the search for Hispanic appointees would go “as deep as possible” into the administration.

National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA) Chairman Hector Sanchez said his group has been asking the Clinton and Trump campaigns for “at least four Latino Cabinet members,” but he has not gotten a commitment to that number.

Of the Hispanics now in the Obama administration, Labor Secretary Tom Perez is seen as a top contender to lead Clinton’s Justice Department.

As a Clinton surrogate in the primaries, Perez surprised audiences with his fiery speeches. At the Democratic National Convention in July, he was spotted sitting next to former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonHas China already won? Budget impasses mark a critical turning point in Biden's presidency Five takeaways from Arizona's audit results MORE.

A high-level CHC official told The Hill the group is actively working to make sure Perez “finds himself as attorney general” in a Clinton administration.

Rep. Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraBipartisan senators to hold hearing on 'toxic conservatorships' amid Britney Spears controversy Bottom line Overnight Health Care — FDA panel backs boosters for some, but not all MORE (D-Calif.) also could be offered a position. As Clinton’s top Hispanic surrogate, he has relentlessly campaigned for her and down-ballot Democrats throughout the country.

Becerra is Democratic Caucus chairman and the highest-ranking Hispanic in House history. He has been in Congress since 1993, focusing mostly on health and budget issues, so he could be in line for Health and Human Services or director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Another contender for an administration post is Housing Secretary Julián Castro, a rising star in the Democratic Party who, like Perez and Becerra, was on Clinton’s shortlist for the vice presidency.

Small Business Administrator ­Maria Contreras-Sweet could continue in her role, helping Clinton realize her promise of having a half-female cabinet. Other possible names include Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla and former Homeland Security Department Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus

Asian-Americans are now the fastest-growing minority group in the country by percentage, and recent polls show they overwhelmingly favor Clinton over Trump, 55 percent to 14 percent.  

Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) officials confirmed that a meeting with the Clinton team took place off Capitol Hill in late September but declined to say which names were discussed or who attended.

Other Democratic sources, however, said they had seen a partial list from the meeting. It included Chris Lu, who is seen as a leading candidate for Labor secretary. Lu, the son of Taiwanese immigrants, is now deputy Labor secretary, making him the highest-ranking Asian-American in the Obama administration.

Neera Tanden, the president of the progressive Center for American Progress, could land a job leading the Department of Health and Human Services. She’s a Clinton loyalist and formerly worked on the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Two other high-profile names being tossed around are San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Rhea Suh, the president of the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Lee, who’s focused on affordable housing issues as his city has experienced a tech boom, could be a possible pick for Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or Education secretary.

Before taking the helm at the NRDC, Suh served in the Obama administration for five years as the Interior Department’s assistant secretary for policy, management and budget.  

Other names being floated include Richard Verma, the current U.S. ambassador to India who could become U.N. ambassador; U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy; Nani Coloretti, who is now deputy HUD secretary; Neal Katyal, the former acting solicitor general; and Raj Shah, who served for five years as head of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Two outsiders who could get consideration: John Chiang, the California state treasurer who announced he’s running for governor in 2018; and Ajay Banga, the president and CEO of MasterCard.

Congressional Black Caucus

Leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) also have eyes on posts in the next administration.

In August, a handful of CBC members met in Clinton’s campaign headquarters in Brooklyn to push their case. The meeting, organized by CBC Chairman G.K. ButterfieldGeorge (G.K.) Kenneth ButterfieldWHIP LIST: How House Democrats say they'll vote on infrastructure bill House Democrats push to introduce John Lewis voting rights bill within weeks Black Caucus presses Democratic leaders to expedite action on voting rights MORE (D-N.C.), featured Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and campaign manager Robby Mook. Also on hand were CBC Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) and Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.).

Butterfield declined to comment for this story, but Cleaver said the lawmakers liked what they heard from Clinton’s team. Cleaver singled out several prominent African-American figures CBC lawmakers are promoting for top positions.

Rep. Marcia FudgeMarcia FudgeBiden administration launches new national initiative to fight homelessness Sanders goes back to 2016 playbook to sell .5T budget Activists detail legal fight against HUD for Philadelphia housing MORE (D-Ohio), a senior member of the Agriculture Committee and a former CBC chairwoman, is considered a strong fit to head the Agriculture Department.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum is another figure on the CBC’s radar, as is former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown. Brown is now a surrogate for the Clinton campaign, and the lawmakers see him possibly heading HUD.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) is on the caucus’s shortlist; he is the former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and “would certainly merit consideration” as Homeland Security secretary, Cleaver said.

Former two-term Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick are always in the mix when it comes to Cabinet discussions.   

Several other powerful CBC members are also being floated for jobs, Cleaver said, though their positions on Capitol Hill make it unlikely they’ll make the switch.

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) has attended “several” meetings where prominent African-American figures were mentioned as potential appointees. The retiring lawmaker declined to name names, but he suggested the black community has faith in Clinton’s team.

“Most of us in the African-American community believe Bill Clinton really reached out to make historic appointments,” Rangel said Tuesday on a phone call. “I don’t think you have to be a politician to see that, without the black vote, there’s no victory for the Democratic Party.”