For members of Congress who are expected to return to Washington next year — a category that includes all six of Louisiana’s House members — the period immediately after Election Day will be something akin to a game of musical chairs.
Furiously circling the available seats, of course, is Steve Scalise, the majority whip from Jefferson Parish who could move up the GOP hierarchy, depending on the overall results. With House Speaker Paul Ryan heading toward early retirement, Scalise could advance one spot to majority leader, or even two spots to speaker, if Republicans hold the majority. If not, chances are he’d simply move over to minority whip.
Also in the game is U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson, who is running to head the Republican Study Committee, a large caucus of House conservatives. This job, which doesn’t depend upon the GOP keeping control, could mean a big step up in visibility for the freshman from north Louisiana. Previous chairs include Vice President Mike Pence and Scalise.
But the sleeper candidate among Louisiana’s members could be the lone Democrat, Cedric Richmond, should Democrats take control. The New Orleans native already has a high profile as chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, but he could climb even higher depending on how other things shake out, particularly with Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Richmond’s mentor Jim Clyburn.
If Pelosi doesn’t go for speaker, Clyburn may, and Richmond would support him for that or another leadership position. But Richmond himself could also compete for any number of leadership posts, particularly if fellow Democrats decide they’re ready for generational change.
At the least, he should be able to snag a subcommittee chairmanship on one of the committees on which he now serves, Judiciary or Homeland Security. As consolation prizes go, Louisiana could do a lot worse.