Talk of a possible show-down between Maryland Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer and South Carolina Democratic Rep. James Clyburn over the party’s second-most powerful House leadership position was made official Monday after Hoyer announced he would make a run for Democratic Whip, a position Clyburn has held since 2007.
“In order to defend and build on our Democratic accomplishments, unify our Caucus, and immediately begin the hard work of winning back the majority, I will be running for Democratic Whip,” said Hoyer, who will serve as House majority leader until the end of this year. He added that he has “received support from across the breadth of our Caucus to remain in the second ranking position of our Democratic leadership team.”
The announcement could prove problematic for the Democratic Party, which would remove the highest-ranking black member of the House if Hoyer wins the election. California Rep. Barbara Lee, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, threw her support behind Clyburn this week and said that party leadership must retain its diversity.
“With our country and our party at a crossroads, it is important that we have a leadership team in place that recognizes the strength and diversity of the Democratic Caucus and puts the needs of the Caucus before their own agendas,” Lee said in a letter.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose announcement last week that she would run for minority leader bumped Hoyer from his current slot, endorsed Rep. John Larson of Connecticut for Conference Chair last week, which would have left Hoyer left out of a leadership position if he had decided not run for the whip position.