U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond is leaving the House after 10 years for a role as a White House advisor when President-elect Joe Biden takes office - a role he said will help him help his native New Orleans, the state of Louisiana and other Southern states. He will be a senior adviser to the president and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. He’s expected to engage with Congress and focus on the Black community and other minority groups.
Richmond, 47, is the only Democrat and only Black member of Louisiana’s congressional delegation. A New Orleans native, he attended Morehouse College and Tulane Law School, and brings generational and racial diversity to Mr. Biden’s tight-knit inner circle.
He formally announced that he was taking the position at a news conference Nov. 17 at a regional airport in eastern New Orleans. He said he will step down from his congressional post in January. Having just been reelected to a sixth term, he did not immediately weigh in on who his successor should be.
“He’s going to give straight advice,” said Marc H. Morial, the president of the National Urban League and a former mayor of New Orleans, who has known Mr. Richmond since his days serving in the Louisiana state legislature. “He’s not a yes man.”
“It sends a really powerful signal to the Black community that Cedric is going to be in that core group,” added Mr. Morial, also describing Mr. Richmond as a “team player.”
Richmond would have faced an uncertain future remaining in conservative Louisiana if he had wanted to run statewide. And with Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York a leading contender to succeed Speaker Nancy Pelosi and become the first Black American to lead the House, Richmond’s calculation was plainly that he could have the most influence in the White House.
It may seem an unusual trajectory for somebody who has been in elected office since he was in his 20s, but it hardly came as a surprise in a city known for its canny politicians.