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Clyburn leaving Democratic leadership but will seek reelection to House

South Carolina Democrat credited with helping turn Biden 2020 presidential run in right direction

Rep. James E. Clyburn speaks during the opening news conference of House Democrats’ 2024 issues retreat in Leesburg, Va., on Feb. 7.  Clyburn announced Wednesday that he is stepping down from his leadership position.
Rep. James E. Clyburn speaks during the opening news conference of House Democrats’ 2024 issues retreat in Leesburg, Va., on Feb. 7. Clyburn announced Wednesday that he is stepping down from his leadership position. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., said Wednesday that he is stepping down from his position as assistant Democratic leader but said he would still run for reelection.

Clyburn was long the No. 3 Democratic leader, alternatively in the majority and minority, alongside then-Speaker and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader and Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer. After the 2022 elections, Pelosi and Hoyer stepped down and House Democrats elected a new trio: Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Minority Whip Katherine M. Clark of Massachusetts and Caucus Chairman Pete Aguilar of California.

Clyburn then ran for assistant Democratic leader and won by acclamation after David Cicilline of Rhode Island dropped his bid.

“I will run for re-election for the Sixth Congressional District. Events of the last several years have made it clear that the greatness of America is at peril, and the threats to our continued pursuit of ‘a more perfect Union’ are real,” Clyburn said in a statement.

First elected in 1992, Clyburn got an early start in leadership when he was elected co-president of the Democrats’ freshman class.

Clyburn was instrumental in President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, particularly in shoring up support for him in South Carolina, which was the first primary Biden won in 2020 and set him on a path to the nomination after rocky results in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.

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