- The Washington Times - Monday, September 21, 2020

A top Washington lobby shop is telling clients to begin preparing to court a Joseph R. Biden administration chock full of far-left figures and possibly President Trump nemesis Sen. Mitt Romney.

The firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck forecast that if Mr. Biden wins the White House in November, he’ll likely tap Mr. Romney or former Obama administration diplomat Susan Rice for secretary of state.

Naming Mr. Romney, a Utah Republican and prominent Never Trumper, would offer an olive branch to the GOP establishment if not Mr. Trump’s supporters.

“I think Romney would be someone who would fit in that mold: in other words a traditional Republican who hasn’t in any way identified with President Trump,” said Alfred E. Mottur, a Brownstein shareholder and former member of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 national finance leadership team.

The lobbyists also tell clients to begin preparing for a Biden Cabinet that includes several Democratic presidential contenders who bowed out to clear a path to the nomination for Mr. Biden. They include a possible Treasury Secretary Elizabeth Warren, an Attorney General Amy Klobuchar, and an Education Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

Other Democrats likely to be elevated to key posts, according to the report which lists multiple people for various posts, include failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams for attorney general, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti as secretary of housing and urban development or transportation secretary and Sen. Tammy Duckworth as a potential secretary of defense or as secretary of veterans affairs.

Other top administration posts forecasted for elected Democrats include Rep. Val Demings as FBI director and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee as Environmental Protection Agency Administrator or Secretary of Energy.

Brownstein, which led all federal lobbying firms in revenue last quarter, did not explicitly consult with the Biden campaign or transition effort about the lobbying shop’s forecast. Brownstein’s members, however, have hosted campaign events and fundraisers for Mr. Biden’s cause and interact daily with Mr. Biden’s campaign and constantly growing transition effort.

Mr. Mottur said his firm’s forecast of Mr. Romney as a secretary of state in a Biden administration is not reflective of an existing agreement between the two men but an expectation that a Democratic president would want to make a gesture of bipartisanship.

Mr. Romney’s office did not respond to request for comment.

While Mr. Romney would be an overture to centrist-minded Republicans, Mr. Mottur said Ms. Abrams’ selection as attorney general would reflect a “commitment to attacking disparities in state policies that prejudice the electoral system against voters.”

Ms. Abrams had previously served as special tax counsel at law firm Sutherland Asbill & Brennan before leading Fair Fight Action, a liberal advocacy group focused on voter access.

Brownstein’s outlook for a potential Biden administration is consistent with other early projections of key posts from top Democrats.

Ms. Warren as Treasury secretary and Mr. Garcetti as HUD secretary were previously floated as possible Cabinet appointments by Democrats and Mr. Biden’s transition team, according to Politico.

A prominent Democrat not in Brownstein’s forecast that routinely gets floated is New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Brownstein also foresees major tax policy changes from a Biden administration that would affect areas including housing and COVID-19. Brownstein predicted Democrats will choose to raise taxes to pay for Mr. Biden’s policy agenda.

“Democratic policymakers will decide in 2021 that most legislation needs to be fully offset. Democrats will prefer raising revenue to cutting spending,” the outlook reads. “In 2021, Democrats will begin paying for all legislation. While an initial stimulus/COVID-19 bill may be unpaid for, subsequent bills to build the economy, expand health care, and address climate change are likely to be revenue-neutral.”

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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