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Becerra Nominated To Lead HHS, And Newsom’s Power To Fill Big Jobs Grows

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The Biden Administration is beaming up California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to Washington, D.C. to run the Department of Health and Human Services.

As the New York Times first reported, Becerra has been a champion of the Affordable Care Act during the Trump Administration. He was a surprise choice for HHS, but had reportedly been in the mix to lead the U.S. Justice Department.

Becerra took over as the state’s top cop in 2017 when Kamala Harris moved to the U.S. Senate. Before that, he represented the Los Angeles area in Congress, first elected in 1992. His long career in politics provides an entertaining library of archival tape:

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If Becerra is confirmed to Biden’s cabinet (not a foregone conclusion), he will leave almost two years of his term for a successor to be hand-picked by Governor Newsom. That will kick off another round of musical chairs, with politicians across the state angling to follow in Becerra and Harris’ footsteps, leveraging the high-profile California Attorney General gig for major career moves beyond Sacramento.

Newsom has already been wrestling with another vacancy: the governor has the power to fill Vice President-elect Harris’ Senate seat, and has bemoaned the “burden” of calls, emails and in-person lobbying that job opening has elicited.

“People just happen to show up certain places," he joked recently. "They want to babysit your kids, they offer to get groceries, get coffee.”

With the Becerra news, the Governor might want to consider changing his phone number.