BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, a New Orleans Democrat, will resign his seat in Congress to join President-Elect Joe Biden’s senior staff in the White House, the congressman announced Tuesday (Nov. 17).
The 47-year-old will become one of the highest-ranking Black officials in the nation when he becomes the Director of the White House’s Office of Public Engagement. He’ll serve as a senior adviser to the president, and is expected to act as a liaison between climate activists and the oil industry as the administration seeks to cut emissions.
“I get to take my Louisiana experience with me to the White House to make sure people understand our problems, and I don’t have to talk with a southern accent to get it done," Richmond said.
Gov. John Bel Edwards will call a special election to replace Richmond in Louisiana’s second district, which encompasses most of New Orleans and some portions of Baton Rouge. Edwards, Richmond, and Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin will consult to find the best date, though it will likely fall in Spring 2021.
A graduate of Benjamin Franklin High School, Richmond pointed out schools he attended “one mile from here,” and “just a few blocks up the road.”
“You can go from Osborne to the White House," he said, speaking of Mildred Osborne Charter School, where he attended as a child.
WAFB political analyst, Jim Engster, says Louisiana has not had a senior adviser in the White House in more than 40 years.
“He’ll be at the president’s side and will probably have a place at the table when important decisions are made," Engster said. "For a guy who’s as young as he is, by political standards, this is an opportunity that’s a major one for him and for our state.”
Richmond says his decade in Congress has resulted in sending hundreds of bills that could better the lives of Louisianans to “die in the Senate.”
See Richmond’s full address in the video below.
“A divided government is a broken government,” Richmond said.
Richmond believes his new role in the West Wing of the White House will be important for the state and will allow him to better serve the people of Louisiana.
“This is a sad day for me,” he continued. “For me to be leaving something I fought so hard to get. Leaving something that means so much to me. But I am not leaving the people of Louisiana or the second congressional district. I bleed black and gold."
Richmond’s congressional office will remain open until a successor is elected. He says he will be an active part of the process and will make sure the needs of the people of Louisiana are at the top of the next representative’s agenda.
“For too long we’ve been last in everything that’s good and first in everything that’s bad,” he said. “Improving lives will come through investing in the people of Louisiana. And it’s going to take some help. It’s going to take the help of the federal government.”
Rep. Garet Graves, a Republican who serves Louisiana’s 6th Congressional District, issued the following statement on Richmond’s new role saying it would be good for Louisiana and joking that it would be a big help to the Republican congressional baseball team:
“Cedric’s departure is going to create a void in our delegation, and I consider him a good friend. Pending election results, Cedric could land a spot in the West Wing with extreme proximity to the Oval Office. This is incredible for Louisiana and our priorities should it pan out. While our voting records differ, it has been clear that he does what he believes is best for the people he represents. We have had some big wins together that wouldn’t have happened without his support, whether it’s been fighting for the energy industry in Louisiana, improving fishing opportunities, changing flawed policies affecting disaster victims, securing coastal wins or much more. And with his potential departure comes the nationwide fulfillment that the Republicans will have a fighting chance to take back the title of being congressional baseball game champions. I wish Cedric the best and know this opportunity is another chapter of his advocacy for Louisiana,” Graves said.
Gov. Edwards released the following statement congratulating Richmond on his new role:
“Congratulations to Congressman Cedric Richmond on his new role in President-elect Joe Biden’s White House. I appreciate his partnership during his time in Congress, especially as Louisiana has battled natural disasters and, now, a pandemic. Though I know his constituents will miss him, his voice and his advocacy, having a Louisianan in such a prominent role will be good for our state and our people. I look forward to working with him and working with President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris to address the needs of Louisianans and move our state forward. I will consult with Congressman Richmond about the timing of his resignation from Congress and with the Secretary of State and other leaders in his district about the best time for a special election to fill his seat when it is vacant,” Gov. Edwards said.
The Louisiana Democratic Party released the following statements after Richmond’s acceptance of the role of senior advisor and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement:
“Louisiana Democrats wish Congressman Richmond and his family the very best as he embarks on a new chapter of service in the White House,” Katie Bernhardt, chair of the Louisiana Democratic Party said. “Over the past two decades, Cedric Richmond has tirelessly served the people of Louisiana. We are honored to have him bring our voices to the White House and know he will continue to work to better the lives of the people of Louisiana in his new position.”
“Nearly ten years ago, the voters in Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District elected Cedric Richmond to Congress,” James Gray, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party said. “Those who knew him best did not hope he would do well, we expected him to do well. He has exceeded our expectations. Congressman Richmond stepped into this position with a love for Louisiana and its people. He combined that love with a drive, focus, and a keen mind – sharper and faster than a good fastball. Those things served him well in Congress, and he served us well. While we’re sad to see him go, we’re proud of what he’s accomplished for Louisiana and we’re confident he’ll continue to be a major asset for the people of the 2nd Congressional District and our state. We thank Congressman Richmond for the work he has done, and will continue to do, for his district and our state in the future.”
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