House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) is making way for new Democratic Party leaders in the upcoming Congress. On Friday afternoon, shortly after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) issued a statement praising Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Katherine Clark (D-MA), and Pete Aguilar (D-CA) as a “new generation” of leadership whose “time has come,” Clyburn’s spokesperson Hope Derrick issued a statement to Talking Points Memo announcing that he was running for the fourth ranked spot in the caucus.
“Congressman Clyburn has announced he is running for Assistant Democratic Leader. It will be the 4th ranked position in Democratic leadership in the 118th Congress,” Derrick wrote in an email.
The statement clarified Clyburn’s position following a shakeup ahead of the Democratic caucus’ leadership vote, which is set for Nov. 30. On Thursday, Pelosi gave a speech declaring she would not run for reelection to leadership after nearly 20 years serving as the party’s leader in the House of Representatives. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Pelosi’s second in command, followed that up with his own statement declaring he had “decided not to seek elected leadership in the 118th Congress.” Both Pelosi and Hoyer threw their support behind Jeffries to become the Democrats’ next House leader and he is widely expected to have enough support to win the post without any major challenge. Clark and Aguilar were quickly reported as in line for the next two spots in leadership.
Clyburn, who, as majority whip, is currently the third-ranked member of the caucus, issued a more ambiguous statement that said he is looking forward to “doing whatever I can to assist our new generation of Democratic Leaders” and naming the trio of Jeffries, Aguilar and Clark without clarifying his own plans. Soon after, he announced he would be running for Assistant Democratic Leader.
That position of assistant leader was actually created for Clyburn in 2011 to avoid a battle between him and Hoyer. At the time, Democrats were in the minority and assistant leader was ranked third in the leadership hierarchy. According to Punchbowl, the decision to have Aguilar, who will be caucus chairman, assume the third spot came after months of discussions including a “private conversation” between Aguilar and Clyburn.