Sen. Bernie Sanders hopes to become part of Joe Biden's administration if he's elected president and is particularly interested in being named labor secretary, according to two people said to be familiar with the conversations.
The independent senator from Vermont, however, would neither confirm nor deny that he's angling for the spot, telling Politico that he's "focused on seeing that Biden is elected president. That's what my main focus is."
Faiz Shakir, a former campaign manager for Sanders, said the senator hasn't talked directly with the Biden campaign about a future role in the administration. However, he said Sanders does plan to push Biden to include "progressive voices" in his transition and administration if he's elected.
Two other people close to Sanders, though, told Politico that the senator wants to be part of the administration and has been reaching out to the transition team to push for the Labor Department spot.
Sanders has hit the campaign trail for Biden and has collaborated with him to create "unity task forces" for recommendations on policy points concerning healthcare, climate change, and more. He also spoke at the Democratic National Convention to urge fellow progressives to back Biden.
Sanders has also been an influence on policy and personnel discussions with Biden's transition staff, said Shakir.
"It would be great to have a unity government that takes into account that progressives are a pretty healthy portion of the electorate," he said. "Heeding that would be good, but if Joe Biden wins, he rightly has a mandate to move in whatever direction he chooses."
Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich told Politico that Sanders would be "terrific" as head of the Labor Department.
The senator could also be supported through the labor movement, with union officials expecting to influence who Biden eventually picks because of his calls for minimum wage hikes and easier worker organization processes.
In addition, during this election cycle, many major unions backed Sanders' "Medicare for All" proposal, saying it would help workers focus bargaining efforts on wages and working conditions rather than healthcare coverage.
However, there are some who say Sanders' independent streak could keep him from joining Biden's Cabinet.
"Because of how he operates and works with other people, there's a zero chance," said a person close to the senator. "He's a Lone Ranger, to a fault."
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