Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) was elected assistant minority leader on Thursday, after surprise challenger Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) dropped out moments before the closed door vote.
Cicilline, in a speech to the caucus, laid out what he would have run on right before endorsing Clyburn, according to Axios reporting. The Rhode Island Democrat also reportedly said he sat down with Democratic leadership and was given assurance there will be LGBTQ+ representation in leadership in the new Congress. It’s not yet clear what form that will take.
Cicilline’s unexpected challenge came on Wednesday, after he announced that he thought it was “critical that the House Democratic Leadership team fully reflect the diversity of our caucus and the American people by including an LGBTQ+ member at the leadership table.”
The 30-year veteran Clyburn will take the No. 4 position in House Democratic leadership next year. Clyburn has been the No. 3 Democrat since 2007. There was some temporary confusion within the Democratic caucus about Clyburn’s role in leadership after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s (D-MD) announced earlier last month that they planned to step away from leadership once Republicans take the House next year to make way for a new younger generation of Democratic leaders. Clyburn’s office issued a statement to TPM last month announcing that the South Carolina congressman would run for the fourth ranked spot in the caucus.
“I’m pleased and honored to continue serving,” Clyburn told reporters. When asked about Cicilline’s challenge, “I don’t think anything of it.” he responded. “He told the caucus his issues, raising the issue of the LGBTQ+ community.”