Robert Thomas (Bob) Richards arrived in Washington, DC from Philadelphia in 1984 and immediately began roiling the calm waters of the DC Republican Party. He worked for Carol Schwartz in the primary election in which she defeated established incumbent Rev. Jerry Moore for his At-Large seat on the D.C. City Council. He became Schwartz’s chief of staff, soon earning the soubriquet “Carol’s pit bull” throughout the District Building.
Bob was a passionate, lifelong Republican who never thought that his party affiliation should be an impediment to political action in a 90 percent Democratic city. Over the ensuing 35 years, he worked tirelessly for the party at the ward and citywide levels. He chaired the Ward 7 Republicans for many years, reveling in the gritty tasks of posting campaign signs, sending mailings — usually at his own expense — and recruiting poll workers. He loved the electricity of election days. He cruised the Ward 7 polling places, checking the turnout, taking the temperature of the electorate, making sure his workers were well fed. In retirement, he served three terms on Advisory Neighborhood Commission 7B, including two terms as Chairman.
Even more than the mechanics of politics, Bob loved to engage in policy debates. He rose to become a member of the Republican Central Committee. He constantly urged the party to take public positions on issues affecting the city, not to retire to the shadows between elections.
Bob also worked to increase diversity within the party. He was a member of numerous African-American Republican groups, including D.C. Black Republicans and the Council of 100.
Professionally, Bob was a lawyer with deep expertise in housing and finance, dating from his years in non-profit housing development in Philadelphia. During the administration of President George H.W. Bush, Bob was appointed to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to work on the innovative housing programs being developed by Secretary Jack Kemp: creating enterprise zones and promoting tenant ownership of public housing. Bob later became housing director in the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.
Bob loved his adopted city and his party. His passion was coupled with sound judgment, a sense of fair play, and an immaculate ethical character. We’ll miss him.
Provided by Reverend Nathaniel Thomas