Louisiana Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond said Thursday he is considering a bid to become chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus and that he’ll make a decision after he consults with his family over the Thanksgiving break.
“I would love to do it, but I haven’t announced that I would do it yet,” Richmond told reporters.
New York Rep. Yvette D. Clarke, the current first vice chairwoman, is also rumored to be interested. Her spokesman Patrick Rheaume declined to confirm whether Clarke was considering a bid, saying only, “There has not been any announcement as yet.”
The caucus elects a new leader every Congress. North Carolina Democratic Rep. G.K. Butterfield is the current chairman.
The CBC election is set for Nov. 30, the same day as the rescheduled leadership elections for the full House Democratic Caucus. The black caucus is a large and influential group among House Democrats; many of its members have long congressional tenures and several serve as ranking members on a variety of committees.
Richmond, who is in his third term, said part of the reason why he hasn’t yet decided on running for CBC chairman is because he has a 2-and a-half-year-old child and is unsure whether he can balance fatherhood with the additional time commitments that come with a leadership position.
“Being chair is a big sacrifice — a lot of travel and all of those things — so it’s just something you really have to think about,” he said.
“I think Thanksgiving is probably the most appropriate time to sit around with family and evaluate where you are, what you’re thankful for,” Richmond said. “And when you think about what you’re thankful for, you really have to start thinking about your obligation to give back and do more stuff. So that’s the conversation we’ll have at Thanksgiving dinner.”
CBC leaders spoke out against Donald Trump throughout the presidential campaign for his rhetoric about minority groups and his views on criminal justice. The next head of the caucus will be expected to continue to push back against the president-elect.
Richmond, 43, said his primary focus, though, has been fighting poverty and finding ways to help people lift themselves out of it.
“We find ourselves in this strange time with Trump at the top,” he said. “I think we have to redouble our efforts in protecting those people. … Every family in this country would like to move upward in the economic status, and we’ve got to figure out a way to help people do that.”
Richmond said Democrats have not been talking enough about how they would help the poor and that “is probably why we probably got our butts kicked as a party.”
House Democrats have been in a period of reflection ever since the GOP sweep in the Nov. 8 election, trying to figure out what went wrong and what they need to do differently.
Richmond said one step would be for the Democrats to target populations outside of their base and show that there is room in the party for people who do not share all of the party’s traditional views.
“I am from the South, where we don’t have many seats, and I think we just have to demonstrate to people, especially in the South, that the Democratic Party is a big-tent party with people of divergent views,” he said. “My governor of Louisiana is [a] pro-gun, pro-life Democrat.”