The traditional post-election buzz about who may be tapped to serve in President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet has begun and Latino names are in the mix.
President Donald Trump began his presidency with no Latinos in his Cabinet.
Two eventually served, former Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, who resigned amid controversy and current Small Business Administrator Jovita Carranza. Their terms did not overlap.
According to exit polls, 66 percent of Latinos voted for Biden. Their votes were vital to his coalition of voters that gave him the victory and helped him flip Arizona and hold on to Nevada.
Even though Biden lost Florida, a state where Trump gained Latino voters, Hispanics in the state broke for Biden, 53 percent to Trump’s 45 percent.
With that support, the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, a coalition of 42 Latino groups, wants Biden to name no fewer than five Latinos to his Cabinet. During President Barack Obama’s two terms, he had six Latinos in total in his Cabinet.
Another group has formed to provide the Biden transition team names for other Hispanics to put into the federal pipeline and to add names for Cabinet positions. The group is the Alliance for Latinx Leadership and Policy, with co-chairs from Texas, California and Colorado.
The Biden transition team doesn’t make public the names of those being considered.
But Latino groups and leaders are submitting lists to give their preferences to transition members and to make sure a wide list of Hispanics is considered.
The NHLA has been working with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to identify potential Cabinet members and appointees for other positions.
Some of the names circulating based on discussions with different groups include California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as U.S. attorney general or to head the Department of Homeland Security.
Becerra, who served 24 years in the House, has led Democrat challenges to Trump administration executive orders and initiatives, suing the president on health care, gun control, environmental policies and more.
Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee, has also been mentioned for attorney general. He served as the head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division under President Barack Obama, overseeing the administration’s crackdown on abusive police departments and he also served as Labor secretary.
His current work as Democratic party chair would make it more difficult to slip into the attorney general position, which is supposed to be a politically independent position, because of his partisan work. Perez has also been mentioned for Labor secretary.
Ali Mayorkas, former DHS deputy secretary and former Citizenship and Immigration Services director in the Obama administration, is another name being suggested for Department of Homeland Security secretary.
Another name for DHS secretary is Louis Caldera, the only Latino secretary of the Army. He also was director of the White House Military Office under Obama.
Rep. Raúl Grijalva of Arizona, chairman of the House Natural Resource Committee and a progressive, has been suggested as a pick to head the Department of Interior, while Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, who oversaw her state’s health and aging departments, is being suggested for Health and Human Services or Energy.
Biden has said he’d pick a teacher to lead the Education Department. Latinos mentioned for that post are Lily Eskelsen-Garcia, a Utah teacher and former president of the National Education Association, and Pedro Rivera, former Pennsylvania secretary of education.
Julián Castro, the only major Latino candidate for president and former secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Obama, has been mentioned as a potential pick for Labor, Commerce, U.N. ambassador, HUD again or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Rep. Jimmy Gomez of California has been suggested as a possible candidate to head the Labor Department or be U.S. trade representative. Gomez is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, the panel that writes the tax laws, and served on a trade working group created by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to negotiate the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has been mentioned for Transportation secretary.
Any candidate who holds an elected position will mean finding a replacement. Democrats will have a smaller majority in the U.S. House and the loss of a House member would mean special elections for replacements.
The NHLA urged Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in a letter to place more Latinos on advisory boards, commissions and other posts within the federal government, including the judiciary, as well as government jobs.
Hispanics are about 8.4 percent federal personnel, according to the NHLA. The Latino groups say they want that number increased to about 20 percent, which is about the share of Hispanics in the U.S. population.
The coalition said in the letter the Biden administration “should have a strong Hispanic presence at every level, to fully reflect the diversity of our Nation’s population and within Latino communities, including gender, race, sexual orientation, and ethnicity.”