Biden’s affair with black voters leaves the White House for a law firm

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Trey Baker, who helped lead efforts to lure black voters to Joe Biden in the 2020 election and worked as an intermediary between the White House and the president’s African-American base, is leaving the administration.

Baker, the White House’s senior adviser for public engagement, leaves Monday to work as an associate in the Washington office of the law firm Barnes & Thornburg. He was one of Biden’s longest-serving aides, working on his presidential campaign as National Director of African-American Engagement beginning in September 2019 before later joining the administration.

Black voters are a crucial segment of Biden’s base. The president has frequently credited those voters with resuscitating his presidential primary campaign and catapulting him into the White House. African Americans voted in greater numbers in the 2020 election than in 2016, with Biden winning 92% of the vote, according to analysis by the Pew Research Center.

The 2020 presidential election cycle took place alongside the most tumultuous period of racial unrest in the United States since the civil rights movement of the 1960s, following the murder of George Floyd by a police officer at the time. in Minneapolis.

“He had to deal with hot potatoes,” civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton said in a phone interview. “Trey was the real link between the civil rights leadership, the White House and the campaign.”

Sharpton credited Baker with keeping the lines of communication open between the White House and the community, especially during times of heightened tension like the trials of Derek Chauvin, the police officer convicted of Floyd’s murder, and the men convicted. of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man killed while jogging in a Georgia neighborhood in February 2020.

“A lot of us, our policies were much more progressive than” Biden’s, Sharpton said, adding that Baker would help steer groups toward achievable goals.

During the campaign, Baker helped develop programs to increase awareness among black men and small business owners. Part of former President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign strategy included an attempt to weaken black voter turnout for Biden.

Baker assisted on the equity aspects of the bipartisan infrastructure bill and also in the allocation of funds to historically black colleges and universities.

He worked closely with Cedric Richmond, a former congressman from Louisiana who co-chaired Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign and became the White House director of public engagement before heading to the Democratic National Committee more early this year.

Former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms took over from Richmond as Biden’s senior adviser and director of public engagement.

Baker’s political career began as an intern in the office of U.S. Representative Bennie Thompson. Thompson is a Democrat from Mississippi and they met when Baker was a student at Tougaloo College, a historically black college in Jackson, Mississippi.

“He probably has the best Rolodex in the country when it comes to black movers,” Thompson said in a phone interview. “He’s a go-to guy for a lot of issues for black people and Democrats in this country.”

Melanie Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, said Baker understands that civil rights groups are not an “extension of the administration” and that sometimes they are allies, while other times the relationship is contentious.

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Baker’s departure comes as Biden prepares to launch his re-election bid in the coming months after November’s midterm elections, according to multiple aides and allies.

Democrats need strong black voter turnout to maintain their slim majority in Congress, especially in battleground states like Georgia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

Barnes & Thornburg said Baker will bring “a fresh perspective on community and government relations” to her practice.

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