Joe Biden’s new chief of staff Ron Klain gives former boss Ed Markey a shoutout

"He taught me how to fight for the right things and how to be effective."

Ron Klain, former White House Ebola response coordinator, speaks during a House Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing in March. Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg

President-elect Joe Biden announced Wednesday that he had chosen longtime aide Ron Klain to be his White House chief of staff.

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Klain’s history working with Biden dates all the way back to the late 1980s when the former vice president was a U.S. senator from Delaware.

But before that, he had another boss: Sen. Ed Markey.

After graduating from Georgetown University in 1983, Klain was hired to be the then-Massachusetts congressman’s legislative director and then reportedly postponed law school to manage Markey’s first Senate campaign in 1984.

Markey, best known at the time for leading the nuclear freeze movement, was the first candidate to jump into the open race. However, the 37-year-old Malden native withdrew from the race six months before the election, which was ultimately won by fellow Democrat and then Lt. Gov. John Kerry. (Of course, Markey did eventually get the seat in 2013 after Kerry was appointed U.S. secretary of state.)


Still, the short-lived campaign led to a lasting friendship. Klain has called Markey his “first mentor.” And on the eve of the senator’s hotly contested primary election this summer, Klain post a photo of what he said was the “oldest Ed Markey for Senate sign that exists” from the 1984 bid. The sign includes a hand-written message from “your friend forever” Markey.

Klain did go on to get his law degree from Harvard Law School and worked as chief counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1989 to 1992. The committee was chaired at the time by Biden. Since then, Klain has been in and out of government, most notably working as Biden’s chief of staff during the beginning of President Barack Obama’ first term and returning to the White House in 2014 to be its Ebola response coordinator.

In a statement Wednesday night, Biden cited Klain’s experience responding to the 2008 economic recession and the 2014 health crisis as among the reasons the 59-year-old Indiana native was “precisely what I need in a White House chief of staff as we confront this moment of crisis and bring our country together again.”

Markey also congratulated the pick of his friend, calling Klain an “outstanding choice.” In response, Klain tweeted late Wednesday that he was “flattered” by his old boss’s kind words.


“Ed Markey was my first boss after college and a lifelong friend,” Klain wrote. “He taught me how to fight for the right things and how to be effective.”

Klain also received praise from the Bay State’s other senator, Elizabeth Warren, who vouched for him as a “superb choice.”

“He understands the magnitude of the health and economic crisis and he has the experience to lead this next administration through it,” Warren wrote. “Ron has earned trust all across the entire Democratic Party.”

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