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Clyburn Makes Bid for Caucus Chairmanship Official

Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.), vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, kicked off his campaign for the Caucus chairmanship on Thursday, penning a letter to his colleagues asking for their support.

Clyburn is currently running unopposed for the top Caucus position, and many Members and aides expect little or no competition for the job.

“I know it is widely speculated, and I have confirmed in person with many of you, that I plan to seek the chairmanship of our Caucus,” Clyburn wrote to Democratic Members. “However, tradition and the recent announcements concening the vice chairmanship position I currently hold seem to dictate that I should make my intentions known in writing.”

Clyburn said he felt it necessary to send the letter to make sure the entire Caucus knew of his candidacy, and that he is “in earnest going to seek the position.” The former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus said the initial response has been “overwhelmingly positive,” adding that he believes he’s earned the chance to lead the Caucus.

“I believe that I have demonstrated to Members that I have the intestinal fortitude as well as the aptitude to be chair of the Caucus,” Clyburn said. “I think the best prediction of future performance is past performance. If you look at my record, you get an idea not just for my capabilities but also the type of chair I would be.”

Clyburn’s call for endorsements comes on the heels of the early race for his current job. Four Democrats are vying for the vice chairmanship: Reps. Joe Crowley (N.Y.), Rubén Hinojosa (Texas), John Larson (Conn.) and Jan Schakowsky (Ill.).

He is prevented by term limits from running again for vice chairmanship in the 110th Congress and has already expressed interest in running for the top Caucus slot. The position is open in 2007 but could become available earlier if a series of political events prompt current Chairman Bob Menendez (N.J.) to vacate the House for a Senate seat.

In his letter, Clyburn laid out his case for why he should succeed Menendez “whenever the position becomes vacant.” He said he has helped the party and fellow Members financially, helped coordinate and put together the annual Caucus retreats, and has led on many key issues including by heading the Democrats’ effort to improve its message on faith and better connect with Americans on the topic.

“I feel good about the foundation we are forming as a Caucus, and look forward to sharing my vision with you and listening to yours,” Clyburn said.

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