James Clyburn to remain in No. 4 Dem leadership spot after challenger withdraws bid

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Rep. James E. Clyburn will remain in the House Democratic leadership after a rank-and-file member withdrew his 11th-hour challenge.

Mr. Clyburn, 82, of South Carolina, is currently the No. 3 Democrat as the House majority whip.

In the next Congress, which convenes in January, he will be the No. 4 Democrat as House minority assistant leader, following the withdrawal of a challenge by Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island.

Mr. Cicilline withdrew his bid Thursday after facing pressure from the Congressional Black Caucus and other Clyburn allies.

The Washington Times first reported Mr. Cicilline’s intent to withdraw his nomination.

The 61-year-old former Trump impeachment manager was the first openly gay leader in Congress in 2017, when he took over as the head of the party’s policy and messaging strategy team.

Mr. Cicilline said part of his bid to challenge Mr. Clyburn was to expand LGBTQ representation.

Mr. Cicilline said last month’s shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado motivated his bid, similar to the 2016 mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Florida that motivated his first run for a leadership position.

“After the shooting in Colorado Springs, I feel the same sense of duty and responsibility to serve in House leadership again,” Mr. Cicilline said.

Mr. Clyburn said his decision to stay in the ranks of leadership was motivated to ensure the South has representation.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 82, of California, and House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, 83, of Maryland, agreed to step down from their top spots to heed calls for generational change from younger and more diverse members of the Democratic caucus.

While the majority of the caucus had already backed Mr. Clyburn, some members also praised Mr. Cicilline’s bid to advocate for LGBTQ issues and representation. 

Rep.-elect Rebecca Balint, Vermont Democrat who is the state’s first woman and openly gay member to serve in Congress, said Mr. Cicilline’s efforts made a statement.

“There is a sense that we’re sort of post-homophobia,” Ms. Balint told The Times. “I can tell you that being an incoming member with my wife and kids with me this week and how many times she’s been stopped because she can’t possibly be the wife of a woman coming into Congress has been astounding.”

This week, House Democrats unanimously elected Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, 52, of New York, in an uncontested bid to become minority leader, making him the first Black member to hold that rank.

Rep. Katherine Clark, 59, of Massachusetts, was elected as minority whip, and Rep. Pete Aguilar, 43, of California, will take over as caucus chairman.

Mr. Aguilar currently serves as vice chair of the caucus, and Ms. Clark is assistant speaker.

Mr. Jeffries, Ms. Clark and Mr. Aguilar said their victories reflect the country’s diversity, as they gave credit to the long established party leaders.

Mrs. Pelosi, Mr. Hoyer, and Mr. Clyburn are expected to aid incoming leaders in advisory roles.

“What an incredible blessing to continue to be able to rely on the life experiences, the wisdom, the leadership instincts, the skills, the talent and ability of Speaker Pelosi, Leader Hoyer and Jim Clyburn. It’s a blessing that we embrace,” Mr. Jeffries said.

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