Democrat Rep. Cedric Richmond’s risky intended departure from Congress reveals both something about his own personal political ambitions and the precariousness of a putative former vice president Joe Biden presidential administration.
With Biden inching closer to winning the recent presidential election, Richmond said he would resign soon to take an unspecified but senior role in the White House, but obviously only if Biden’s victory withstands legal challenges. If this comes to pass, he gives up much.
By doing this, Richmond trades out essentially a job for life. He also forfeits the chance to orbit among the most influential Democrats in Congress, having already headed up the Congressional Black Caucus that makes up almost a quarter of Democrats in the House of Representatives and still is relatively young with plenty of upside. Being a pal of Biden’s – he co-led his campaign committee – would have magnified his power further in the chamber.
On the other hand, House Democrats seem certain to go into the minority in 2022, vastly diminishing their power even as Richmond’s association with Biden would continue to have given himself outsized influence in the chamber, perhaps as the most powerful minority member. Still, that stay in the minority for an extended period becomes more likely because state-level election results increased Republican control in the states, making Democrats less able to gerrymander the chamber to their advantage in the round of redistricting soon to commence. The 2021 redistricting fights will reshape Congress for a decade to come.
So, at 47, Richmond might have felt his career in the House for the foreseeable future wasn’t all that appealing, as well as he has no place higher to rise politically in Louisiana – its center-right electorate won’t elect someone so liberal to a statewide federal or state executive office anytime soon. And, the fact is, he would earn more outside of government through lobbying or other means of influence with a White House stint on his resumé.
Because there’s a real chance he won’t stay long due to outside political forces, and to prevent that provides the other reason compelling him to take this leap. Most Democrat leaders don’t trust Biden to push their far left agenda aggressively enough, as he has acted as political chameleon all his elected life and they still harbor doubts that he has transitioned fully from a traditional liberal to one mirroring the extreme version that now controls the party.
From his first day in office, many Democrats will work behind the scenes to ensure that Biden steps aside after one term in favor of his radical running mate Democrat Sen. Kamala Harris – if not before his term ends. Senate Republicans will continue probing his son’s foreign lobbying and business activities with the real possibility that “the big guy” will face charges of corruption. Many Democrats will offer lukewarm defenses of him, if not let him twist in the wind in the hopes they can get Harris in office to run as a semi-incumbent in 2024.
To fight off the possibility of a truncated White House stay, Biden is going to need in his employ every loyalist he can get, and Richmond fits the bill. This imperative, as well as that of a lucrative post-elected career, in Richmond’s mind must justify his jettisoning the safety of the House and a long, potentially influential, stay there.