President-elect Joe Biden’s search for the next attorney general is increasingly focused on Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) and former deputy attorney general Sally Q. Yates, according to people familiar with the discussions, who said that appeals court judge Merrick B. Garland remains a serious contender.

Jones, who lost his reelection bid in November, is the favorite at this stage, but Biden and his inner circle continue to debate the nomination, these people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions.

It is increasingly unlikely, these people said, that former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick will be selected to become the nation’s top law enforcement official. People familiar with the discussions said in recent days that the discussions of the three other candidates have increasingly shifted toward the likelihood of confirmation in the Senate, which is currently controlled by Republicans. On that question, Jones is viewed as having an edge over Yates, according to the people familiar with the discussions.