With Democrats poised to take control of the House of Representatives following last month’s electoral blowout, it was inevitable that U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond of New Orleans, the only Democrat to represent Louisiana in Washington, would emerge with pretty significant appointment.
After all, Richmond is just coming off a term as head the Congressional Black Caucus — a perch that positioned him as a highly visible critic of President Donald Trump — and has long been considered an up-and-comer.
Now we know just how significant. Come January, Richmond will join the Democrats’ whip team, which is responsible for counting votes and shoring up support for the leadership’s preferred legislation. Richmond will become assistant to the whip, a newly created position that’s part of the Democratic compromise to keep the current leadership intact while also opening up opportunities for younger members.
The whip job itself – now held by Richmond’s Republican friend and district neighbor Steve Scalise, at least until the GOP relinquishes control — will go to Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, a longtime member of the Democrats’ leadership and mentor to Richmond.
"I will be Clyburn’s right-hand man," Richmond said. "I will make sure that there are no cracks in the armor and that everything runs smoothly. And that’s what I’m sure he envisions."
But that’s only in the near term. Like presumed incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Clyburn, who is 78, will serve for a maximum of four years under an agreement with fellow Democrats eager for new blood. Richmond is 45.
An awful lot can happen in four years, so it would be foolish to place any bets. But this sounds kind of like a succession plan to me.