Jan 4, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Rhode Island governor emerges as leading candidate for Commerce Department

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo is shown speaking.
Gov. Gina Raimondo. Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fortune/Time Inc.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo has emerged as a leading candidate to be President-elect Joe Biden's commerce secretary, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: Raimondo, a Rhodes scholar who co-founded a venture capital firm in Rhode Island earlier in her career, has prioritized good relationships with the business community, the target audience of commerce.

  • Nonetheless, Raimondo has also clashed with unions as she worked to reform Rhode Island’s public employee pension plans.
  • She also served as a national co-chair for Mike Bloomberg’s presidential campaign, endorsing Biden only after the former New York mayor dropped out.
  • A Biden transition official declined to comment.

The big picture: Biden had been considering a prominent CEO or a Republican to lead the Commerce Department.

  • In considering Raimondo, he appears to be moving to a more traditional choice.
  • Raimondo, 49, and former chair of the Democratic Governor’s Association, is seen as a rising star in her party.

The intrigue: Raimondo also was under consideration to serve as secretary of health and human services, a job that eventually went to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

  • In early December, she appeared to take herself out of the running by saying during a press conference, “I am not going to be President-elect Biden’s nominee for HHS secretary.”
Go deeper