By The New Orleans TribuneIn Right On Time, What We’re Saying

First gratitude and congratulations are extended to U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond for his decade of service to the people of Louisiana’s second congressional district and on his new role in the administration of President-elect Joe Biden. We know he will continue to serve the people of New Orleans, our state, and our nation with dedication and with pride.

Best of luck, Congressman Richmond. Your success is our success!

But the big question—one that has everyone talking—is who will fill Rep. Richmond’s shoes in the House of Representatives?

Whoever is elected will be the “junior” congressman from Louisiana, and that will be a bit of a blow to our district simply because Richmond climbed his way up the ladder of influence and power in the House, through the years serving as assistant to the Whip, as the former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus and as the chairman of the CBC Foundation. Rep. Richmond currently serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, which is charged with reviewing and making recommendations for government budgets. The work of this committee is so important that its members are not allowed to serve on any other committee without special permission. And we are sure that his roles as co-chair of the Biden campaign and close advisor to vice-president Biden on the campaign trail would have uniquely positioned him to be an even more formidable force in Congress had he chosen to remain.

To be sure, Cedric Richmond will be taking a lot of political currency with him when he vacates his office in the Cannon Building for new digs in the White House’s west wing.

It’s not clear yet when the election will be called to fill the second congressional district seat. And as to the replacement? Yes, we have heard several names bandied about as potential candidates in the race—from a former mayor to a current city council member.

We don’t know yet who will vie for the position. What we do know is this: Louisiana’s second congressional district needs and deserves someone able to hit the ground running, an individual who represents the diversity of the district and who understands the needs and challenges that it faces, and someone who will not be intimidated by their so-called “junior” status among the Louisiana delegation. The second congressional district is one of the poorest in the state, with a constituency that is among the most disenfranchised and marginalized. It needs a voice and a leader! And to be candid, he or she must be African American.

We learned a tough lesson on Nov. 3. Louisiana’s delegation to Congress currently stands at eight members—two senators and six representatives. And right now, our only shot at having an African-American person among them is the second congressional district. The fact that a West Point graduate, U.S. Army Veteran who also happened to earn a law degree from Harvard and makes Bill Cassidy look like a slacker couldn’t get 20 percent of the vote statewide in his bid for the U.S. Senate convinces us that the voters of the second congressional district must be resolute in electing a Black person to Congress. So yes, race is important. But it is not the only factor. The second congressional district needs someone with a PROVEN history of standing for and with the people of this district. It needs someone beholden to the people—not to special interests and not to big money. We know what it is like to be sold out by our own leaders on the issues that matter most to our families and communities. We cannot afford to have that sort of leadership in Congress.

So while we have read the names others have mentioned as possible candidates, here at The New Orleans Tribune, we have given serious thought and consideration to a short list of our own. No, we have not reached out to either of these individuals to ask them if they are considering a run for the congressional seat. And quite frankly, we don’t know if they are interested. We just happen to think they would serve the second congressional district well. And since everyone else is throwing around names, we decided to offer ours for consideration. We believe our choices are stellar and reflect the type of steadfast leadership our community needs.

Our Top Choices

Joe Bouie

State Sen. Joe Bouie has proven on more than one occasion that he is ready and willing to stand up for the people who elected him. His bills to return Orleans Parish public schools to real local control and to prohibit schools from being built on former toxic waste sites will forever stand out to us as examples of a lawmaker actually trying to deliver on a promise. Washington, D.C., and the second congressional district of Louisiana could use a leader with Bouie’s tenacity and dedication.

Jacques Morial

Jacques Morial is smart, thoughtful, and engaged. He has his finger on the pulse of the community and an understanding of the challenges that it faces while also possessing a wealth of knowledge of policymaking and what it takes to get things done. Though often content to toil behind the scenes, his work as a community organizer and activist on a number of topics has been important and impactful for the people of New Orleans. He is an astute analyst whose honesty and integrity have made him a respected resource of information and insight on the issues that matter to us. He is one that so many in the community have come to know and trust.

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