(The Center Square) – U.S. Rep Cedric Richmond, a New Orleans Democrat, is leaving Congress in January for a senior role in presumptive President-elect Joe Biden’s administration, Richmond and Biden’s transition team confirmed Tuesday.
Richmond is the only Democratic member of Louisiana’s congressional delegation. The state’s 2nd District, which includes New Orleans and extends into the Baton Rouge area, is considered a safe seat for the Democrats.
He said the move was “one of the hardest decisions I’ve made in my life,” but added the president-elect was “clear in his ask, but also clear in what we could do together and what this country needed at this moment in time.”
Richmond said his new role will allow him to advocate for Louisiana and the rest of the South from within the West Wing on issues such as public education, flood insurance and storm protection.
“This new role will allow me to offer advice to the president when he wants it, and maybe when he doesn’t want it,” he said. “I get to bring my Louisiana experience with me to the White House.”
Richmond was an early supporter of Biden’s presidential run and served as his campaign co-chair. He will be a senior advisor to the president and direct the White House Office of Public Engagement.
Richmond has been in Congress since 2011 and easily won reelection this month, outpacing five challengers in Louisiana’s nonpartisan open primary with 64 percent of the vote. He previously served in the Louisiana Legislature for 11 years after being elected at age 26, one year out of law school.
Richmond is the former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. He is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Committee and the Subcommittee on Trade.
Richmond plans to leave Congress prior to Inauguration Day on Jan. 20. He said the office will remain open for constituent services.
Former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, City Councilwoman at-large Helena Moreno, state Sen. Troy Carter, state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson and state Sen. Cleo Fields are among those being discussed as leading contenders for the soon-to-be-open seat, with Landrieu reportedly the early leader in a recent poll. Richmond said he plans to take an active role in the race to succeed him.
In his Tuesday press conference, he said he was leaving Congress with an 8-0 record as the starting pitcher for the Democrats in the annual congressional baseball game. He jokingly downplayed his own talent, noting that he wasn’t exactly playing against stiff competition.