President-elect Joe Biden continues to put together his White House staff, and the latest addition is New Orleans Congressman Cedric Richmond as senior public engagement advisor, the same role Valerie Jarrett played for all eight years of the Obama administration.
Cedric Richmond will join Joe Biden’s administration in a senior role overseeing public engagement, leaving his seat in the House of Representatives just after being elected to his sixth term, according to people familiar with the situation.
Richmond, who was one of the national co-chairs of Biden’s campaign, will be one of the highest-ranking Black officials in the White House. Richmond, whose district includes New Orleans, has a news conference scheduled for Tuesday where he is expected to announce he is leaving Congress.
The Biden transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Richmond represents a safe Democratic district, so it’s unlikely the House will lose another Democratic seat after several incumbents were defeated by Republicans in this month’s election.
Indeed, Richmond won his LA-2 race by nearly 40 points. Democrats will be fine here.
So what does Richmond bring to the table? Quite a bit, and then some.
Richmond is a former Congressional Black Caucus chairman and was Biden's campaign co-chair starting all the way back in April 2019 and helped him get the unprecedented primary victory he needed over Bernie Sanders and more.
Richmond, 46, has been with Biden every step of the way as a member of the campaign’s inner circle. No one from Louisiana has been closer to him over the past 18 months.
On Saturday, the Biden campaign named him as one of five co-chairs of its presidential transition team.
“He’s going to be a powerful person, come January, if Biden wins. It’s that simple,” said James Carville, who knows something about how being a close adviser to the winning candidate can elevate your status, thanks to his work for Bill Clinton in 1992.
“In Washington, basically, unless you’re a committee chairman, the perception of influence is your access to the president,” Carville said. “That’s the way power flows. It’s the most valuable coin there is. It just confers enormous prestige. He’ll have that. He’ll be a big deal.”
The typical politician would be eager to trumpet his or her access to someone who could be the next president. Not Richmond.
“I’m not trying to overstate my importance and blow my horn,” he said during a recent interview. He didn’t make himself available for a follow-up interview.
Richmond did say his title as campaign co-chairman is not an honorary one.
“It’s day to day for me,” he said. “It’s everything you would expect a person on a campaign level to do — senior level. Anything from previewing ads to debate prep to general nightly strategy calls and other stuff. Talking to members of Congress, recruiting supporters. It’s overwhelming. It’s a lot.”
In other words, Richmond has already been doing this job for nearly two years, just on the campaign trail. Now he'll continue in the White House. And yeah, I have no issue with Richmond keeping Biden honest about the folk that won him the primary and the presidency: Black voters.
And Richmond has a long career ahead of him too, he's only 47. He's going to go far.
Keep an eye on him. Joe Biden will certainly be doing so.