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Biden’s been eyeing Democratic governors for Health and Human Services secretary

With President-elect Joe Biden preparing to unveil his picks to lead agencies on the front lines of the coronavirus fight, he’s been eyeing Democratic governors for at least one key Cabinet position



Joe Biden wearing a suit and tie: U.S. President-elect Joe Biden speaks during an event to name his economic team at the Queen Theater on Dec. 1, 2020 in Wilmington, Del.


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U.S. President-elect Joe Biden speaks during an event to name his economic team at the Queen Theater on Dec. 1, 2020 in Wilmington, Del.

While Gov. Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island had emerged as a potential selection to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, sources told ABC News, she said Thursday she would not be Biden’s pick.

“I am not going to be President-elect Biden’s nominee for HHS Secretary, my focus is right here in Rhode Island,” she said a her weekly COVID-19 news conference.

“I’m working 24/7 to keep Rhode Islanders safe and keep our economy moving and I have nothing else to add on that,” Raimondo said.

When asked by a reporter if she had any obligation to serve the country if asked to do so by Biden, Raimondo did not elaborate.

“I’ve said what I said on that topic. I feel a massive obligation to the people of Rhode Island, and that’s why I’m working so hard right now,” she said.

The Harvard, Oxford and Yale-educated official has long been rumored as someone who could enter a Biden administration, after she was vetted as a possible pick for vice president.

Raimondo, who was elected as Rhode Island’s first female governor in 2014, was seen ahead of the election as a possible nominee for Treasury or Commerce secretary, given her Wall Street background — which has also made her a target for progressives hoping to influence Biden’s incoming administration.



Gina Raimondo standing on a stage: Governor of Rhode Island Gina Raimondo speaks onstage during Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on Oct. 13, 2015, in Washington, D.C.


© Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fortune/Time Inc
Governor of Rhode Island Gina Raimondo speaks onstage during Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on Oct. 13, 2015, in Washington, D.C.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who was also vetted for vice president, is seen as another leading contender for HHS secretary, given her work leading a state during the pandemic, and serving as New Mexico’s health secretary earlier in her career.

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Lujan Grisham has also been boosted by Latino Democrats and advocates who want Biden’s cabinet to reflect the diversity of the coalition that helped win the White House.



Michelle Lujan Grisham standing in front of a fence: New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham speaks in front of solar panels during the Democratic National Convention on Aug. 19, 2020.


© AP
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham speaks in front of solar panels during the Democratic National Convention on Aug. 19, 2020.


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Biden’s pick for HHS secretary, and other coronavirus and health-related roles, could be unveiled as early as next week, sources tell ABC News.

A transition spokesman did not immediately respond to questions about Biden’s consideration of the governors or the timing of any announcements. Lujan Grisham’s office did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

ABC News’ John Santucci, Katherine Faulders and Molly Nagle contributed to this report.

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