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Raimondo emerges as frontrunner for HHS secretary

Published: (Updated: ) in USA news by .

New Mexico’s governor is no longer seen as a favorite.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo is now a top contender to be President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for health secretary, with New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham no longer favored for the role, according to people close to the transition.

Raimondo, who was vetted to be Biden’s running mate over the summer, impressed Biden’s team in those interviews and was under consideration for a number of roles in the administration, according to two people familiar.

Biden officials also believe the 49-year-old has the management experience necessary to run the sprawling Department of Health and Human Services amid a deepening public health crisis, after more than five years leading Rhode Island.

Lujan Grisham, who currently co-chairs Biden’s transition team, had been a leading candidate for HHS secretary but also turned down an offer in recent days to run the Interior Department, according to two sources close to the transition.

“It’s a better fit and it's where her interest and her heart is,” one person close to Lujan Grisham said of her desire to lead HHS rather than the Interior Department. “You can’t blame her for being honest about where her real passion lies.”

Yet a source close to the transition said that rejection hurt her candidacy for other jobs in the administration, including HHS secretary. A pair of news reports on Wednesday portraying Lujan Grisham as a frontrunner for HHS secretary also didn’t sit well with people in Biden’s orbit, though there is no evidence that Lujan Grisham played a role in those stories.

A spokesperson for Lujan Grisham declined to comment. The Biden transition team also did not immediately comment.

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Source: Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories

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