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Hill Dems eyeing Cabinet posts see their hopes shrink

“The Biden administration has to be a lot more sensitive of where you come from if you’re looking at members of Congress,” Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia said in an interview. “We cannot afford to put any seats in jeopardy.”

In the Senate, Democrats privately acknowledge that liberals Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) no longer stand a chance of confirmation as long as Mitch McConnell remains majority leader. And even if Democrats flip a pair of Senate seats in Georgia early next year to take a 50-50 majority, opposition from centrist Democrats could stifle liberal appointees anyway.

Not to mention, while much of the Cabinet is typically filled out by December, Biden signaled Tuesday he is moving fast — saying he will name a “couple” of Cabinet nominees before Thanksgiving even as President Donald Trump refuses to concede.

And in the House, Democrats say they’re unwilling to risk a competitive special election next year that could further diminish its thin majority, putting an end to speculation around swing-district Democrats such as Rep. Katie Porter in Orange County, who has been revered by the left.

Democrats also noted that Biden will want his strongest congressional allies to remain on Capitol Hill, given the slimmer margins in the House and a potential Republican Senate.

“There’s so much talent outside the Senate,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). “This is going to be a really, really challenging two years because President Biden is going to need strong leadership in the Congress. … And I think he’ll prefer to have people he trusts be here.”

Democrats across Capitol Hill had been gleefully anticipating the reshuffling that would have resulted from a resounding sweep of all three branches on Nov. 3 — a game of musical chairs that would reward long-time Democrats with Cabinet posts and create a slew of openings in both chambers.

But Democrats have so far seen a net gain of just one seat in the Senate, and are likely to remain in the minority, barring an unprecedented showing in the Georgia runoffs in January.

That would essentially leave McConnell and his emboldened Senate GOP conference with veto power over Biden nominees, dooming some of the Democrats’ more left-leaning picks. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday that Biden has yet to consult him on members of his caucus potentially going to the Cabinet.

Last week’s election also shrunk the ranks of House Democrats, who so far have lost a net six seats, resulting in the thinnest majority in nearly two decades.

Even if Biden picked Democrats in safe blue districts, those seats could remain empty for some time early in the 117th Congress — further impeding Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s ability to maneuver legislation on the floor.

Several Democrats said they doubted that Biden would look to any of their colleagues for the executive branch, particularly those from swing districts or with Republican governors who could appoint Senate replacements.

“That’s not gonna happen. That’s the political reality and most people are going to see that,” Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri said in an interview. “That would be a dumb decision to put somebody from a seat that we turn around and lose in a special election.”

“We don’t have a lot of seats in the House and the Senate to spare,” Cleaver said.

Some of the Hill Democrats with the best prospects may be those who either fell short or opted out of their own reelection this year, including Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama, who lost reelection but whose career as a civil rights prosecutor in Alabama has landed him among the prospects for attorney general.

Asked about whether he was interested in the post on Monday night, Jones said he had been friends with Biden for a long time and didn’t rule it out.

“I just want Joe Biden to succeed. That’s all I’m going to say about that,” Jones said. Retiring Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico is also a possibility for Interior. Read from source….