U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, reelected just this month to a sixth term, got a better offer from the incoming Biden administration.
Good for him. And good for Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District and for the whole state.
The New Orleans Democrat announced Tuesday that he’s accepted a job as a senior adviser to President-elect Joe Biden and head of the White House’s Office of Public Engagement.
The promotion will cost his district an experienced legislator, one who was chosen by 201,636 of his constituents to stay on the job. But it will give them something even more valuable: A local at the highest level of government, who’ll have a seat at the table and the ear of the president.
Richmond assumes the new post with a lot of good will, and some big chits.
Back when many fellow Democrats were either holding out or lining up behind other members of the large presidential primary field, Richmond went to bat for Biden, and he never stopped. He was an effective surrogate on television, where he argued that the former vice president was the party’s best hope to reclaim the White House, and also on the campaign trail, such as it was in 2020.
He also gained membership in the club of people who could offer the candidate some straight talk. After Biden finished fifth in the New Hampshire primary, Richmond sent what The Washington Post called a “tough love” email telling Biden that, “if you really believe you’re fighting for the soul of the country, then go act like it.”
A veteran of the Louisiana state House, Richmond first turned heads in Washington as the Democrats' star pitcher in the congressional baseball game for charity.
He quickly rose through the ranks, winning a term as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and this term, serving as assistant to the majority whip. Among the issues that have drawn his focus are flood insurance reform, disaster recovery and criminal justice. Announcing his departure from Congress Tuesday, he talked of speeding up a new round of COVID-19 relief, which would certainly be welcome in a state hit hard by an implosion in tourism.
Richmond doesn’t shy away from partisan fights, but he also has an impressive record of laying down arms. As the only Democrat in the Louisiana delegation, he worked well with colleagues such as Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, a fierce rival on the ballfield but a close personal friend off. We hope, and expect, that he’ll keep up these relationships.
There’s a downside to the change, but Louisiana has weathered the loss of congressional seniority before. Rarely, though, has it had a favorite son or daughter so well-positioned to influence national policy.
“I am not leaving the people of Louisiana,” Richmond emphasized in announcing his decision. “I am New Orleans through and through. I bleed black and gold.”
We’ll be counting on it.