President-elect Joe Biden has chosen Ronald Klain, veteran Democratic operative and longtime Biden adviser, to be his White House Chief of Staff, his campaign announced in a statement.
“Ron has been invaluable to me over the many years that we have worked together, including as we rescued the American economy from one of the worst downturns in our history in 2009 and later overcame a daunting public health emergency in 2014,” said President-elect Biden.
“His deep, varied experience and capacity to work with people all across the political spectrum is precisely what I need in a White House chief of staff as we confront this moment of crisis and bring our country together again.”
“It's the honor of a lifetime to serve President-elect Biden in this role, and I am humbled by his confidence. I look forward to helping him and the Vice President-elect assemble a talented and diverse team to work in the White House, as we tackle their ambitious agenda for change, and seek to heal the divides in our country,” Klain said in the statement.
Klain most recently served as Senior Advisor to the Biden for President campaign.
Klain, 59, has been well-known in the Democratic party for decades.
After graduating from Harvard law school with summa cum laude honors in 1987, Klain quickly ascended the ranks of Washington elite.
Starting out as a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Byron White, Klain served in the position for only two years until he shifted to Chief Counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
Klain then went on to serve as Legislative Director for U.S. Representative Ed Markey, who is now serving Massachusetts in the Senate.
Beginning in 1992, Klain’s focus shifted to campaigns as he signed on to the Clinton/Gore ticket as advisor. Klain would go on to be involved in both of Clinton’s presidential campaigns and, after a brief stint as chief of staff for Attorney General Janet Reno, was tapped as then-Vice President Al Gore’s chief of staff in 1995.
Klain would later go on to serve as chief of staff for another vice president: Joe Biden. Klain was selected for the job in November 2008, serving in the role for a little over two years.
But Klain’s experience as the Ebola response coordinator under former President Barack Obama may be most enticing to Biden, in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. He also played a central role in drafting and implementing the Obama administration’s economic recovery plan in 2009.
Choosing Klain is also likely to assuage some concerns among progressives who had been gearing up for a fight over one of the first and biggest staff picks Biden will make as he builds out his White House team. The chief of staff is typically a gatekeeper for the president, crafts political and legislative strategy and often serves as a liaison to Capitol Hill in legislative negotiations.
Progressives had expressed concerns that Biden would pick one of his other former chiefs of staff: Steve Richetti, who faces skepticism for his work as a lobbyist, or Bruce Reed, who is seen as too much of a moderate to embrace reforms pushed by the party’s base. But progressives see Klain as open to working with them on top priorities like climate change and health care.
A number of prominent Democrats congratulated Klain, including New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who wrote "He is absolutely the right leader to help [Biden] navigate the difficult crises we face."
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) called Klain "a superb choice" for the role in a Twitter post.
"He understands the magnitude of the health and economic crisis and he has the experience to lead this next administration through it. Ron has earned trust all across the entire Democratic Party," she wrote.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) called Klain an "excellent choice," adding, "what a blessing to slowly be moving away from chaos."
Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Obama, wrote, "Ron will be a refreshingly competent, experienced, well respected, dedicated public servant who is also a decent, fair and inclusive human being."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.