Joe Biden asked Atlanta’s mayor, rising Democratic star Keisha Lance Bottoms, to head the Small Business Administration (SBA) earlier this week, but she turned down the offer, Axios reported, citing people familiar with the talks.
While genuinely interested in small business development, leading a government agency like the SBA was not her cup of tea, one person shared about Lance, the African-American chief executive of the sprawling south-eastern city.
She reportedly confirmed her decision directly to Biden, as he came up to her, with the pair exchanging a few words after a recent pre-election rally in Atlanta. She had earlier reportedly turned down the same job offer made by Biden’s representatives.
Biden reportedly said during the rally, referring to Lance Bottoms, who was also present on stage:
“Let’s hear it for Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, the best in the business. Had my back early in this whole deal”.
During the tete-a-tete exchange, which hardly spanned an hour and reportedly took place on Biden’s initiative, the president-elect ostensibly depicted the role he had tapped Bottoms for as "only the first step", implying it is as just the first stepping stone of her career ladder on his team.
Despite rumours that Lance Bottoms, a mother of four, had also rejected the ambassadorship to the Bahamas, the SBA job is the only position she’s been offered so far, according to a person close to the mayor, cited by Axios.
The source said there are still options for a career other than mayor for her, implying Bottoms, who is supposedly close to Rep. James Clyburn, a Democrat who worked to deliver South Carolina for Biden, could still have brighter statewide prospects. It is alleged to be dependent on the outcomes of Georgia’s Senate votes and gubernatorial elections.
Biden reportedly weighed Bottoms’ candidacy for his running mate instead of Kamala Harris, as he looked to make good (and still is) on his pledge to build a Cabinet reflecting America's diversity. Yet there are not so many high-profile positions in the White House Cabinet left unoccupied, while the pressure is still mounting on Biden to further diversify his inner circle.
Two Senate runoff votes are scheduled to take place in Georgia on 5 January, with GOP Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler taking on Democrats Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock. At least one of the Republicans must win for the GOP to retain their Senate majority.