AP sources: Richmond to join Biden West Wing, leave Congress

Bill Barrow
Associated Press

Atlanta – Rep. Cedric Richmond will leave his Louisiana congressional seat to join President-elect Joe Biden’s White House as a senior adviser with a wide-ranging policy and political portfolio, according to two Democrats with knowledge of the plans.

The 47-year-old congressman will take on a public engagement role that will allow him to deal with Congress along with a focus on the Black community and other minority groups. Richmond’s role will be like that of Valerie Jarrett in President Barack Obama’s administrations, said the two Democrats, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the details ahead of formal announcement.

Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019.

Richmond, a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, was among Biden’s earliest high-profile supporters and served as his campaign co-chair. Richmond was a key figure in helping Biden, a former senator and two-term vice president, leverage his own long-standing relationships with CBC members. The congressman, who was first elected in 2010 when Biden was Obama’s vice president, was especially important in outreach to younger lawmakers who, like him, came to Washington later in the 77-year-old president-elect’s career.

Richmond has scheduled a Tuesday morning news conference in which he’s expected to announce that he’s leaving his congressional seat.

Bloomberg News first reported Richmond’s intent to leave his House seat to join Biden’s West Wing staff.

Richmond is a graduate of Morehouse College, where he was a varsity baseball player, and Tulane Law School.

On Capitol Hill, he’s attempted to navigate both sides of the aisle in an increasingly partisan era. For years, he’s been the star pitcher for Democrats in the annual congressional baseball game. He was also among the key negotiators in a bipartisan criminal justice overhaul signed by outgoing President Donald Trump.

Richmond established a strong relationship with House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, claiming the South Carolina Democrat and highest-ranking Black member of Congress as a personal mentor not long after Richmond arrived in the House. Clyburn’s endorsement of Biden ahead of the South Carolina primary was a seminal moment in the president-elect’s campaign after his disastrous start in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary.

Richmond remains friends with Republican House Minority Whip Steve Scalise from their days in the Louisiana Legislature. Scalise represents the heavily Republican suburban New Orleans district adjacent to Richmond’s strongly Democratic district based in the city.