Rep. Jim Clyburn’s friends want him well-positioned to be a top House leader next year, so they’re sending him a strong, tough message: Get off the sidelines and be aggressive.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have been telling the South Carolina Democrat he must be more of a self-promoter if he wants a shot at being House speaker or majority leader.
They say he needs to go out and sell the anti-poverty proposal he’s been pushing behind-the-scenes for years — and in turn sell himself.
“The advice I gave him is, ‘demonstrate your ability to lead,’” said Mississippi Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, a caucus member and Clyburn’s close friend.
In a recent interview in his Capitol office, Clyburn, the third ranking House Democrat and most senior African-American in Congress, said he’d heard variations of this theme just hours earlier on a phone call with caucus colleagues.
“‘This is a vision of yours. You got to talk about it. You gotta tout it. You gotta go on the road and get people to understand,’” Clyburn said he was told about his anti-poverty plan. “They said, ‘I want a list of every place you’ve been during this campaign. I want a list. And I want a list of every dollar you’ve given.’ Which I sent them.”
The stakes are high for Clyburn’s party. There is a very real chance Democrats could win control of the House in November.
“The need from the base, the need from the party and the need to take back the majority rest on how loud he can be,” said current Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond, D-Louisiana.
The stakes are also high for Clyburn. If current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California doesn’t have the support to take back the speaker’s gavel she lost after the 2010 election, Clyburn has a shot at taking it for himself.
If Pelosi stays put, there’s new chatter the Black Caucus could empower Clyburn to challenge current Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland for the majority leader slot. There are currently 45 House Democrats in the caucus, and that number is expected to grow in the next Congress.
“We are going to advocate for having an African-American in one of the top two positions” of Democratic leadership, Richmond said, adding Clyburn would be his preferred candidate.
Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, also a caucus member, was more explicit.
“We want to get through this election and make sure (Clyburn) is well positioned to be in number one or number two.
SOURCE: EMMA DUMAIN