Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), the third-ranking House Democrat, told The New York Times Thursday that he would run for Speaker of the House if the Democrats take back control after the midterm elections and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) can’t get the votes for the top position.
“If the opportunity is there I would absolutely do it,” Clyburn, who is 78, said. He argued it would “put to bed forever the notion that the Democratic caucus is taking black voters for granted.”
The New York Times characterized Clyburn’s statement as “an extraordinary declaration, given the culture of deference in Congress — underscoring her (Pelosi’s) vulnerability and the urgency Democrats feel to position themselves for a succession fight.”
Pelosi brushed off Clyburn’s comment and called him a “beautiful, lovely member of Congress.”
She argued that such discussions were “perplexing” when “the fate of our nation is at stake in this election.”
“What I have always tried to do is build a bridge to the future, and hope that would be in the majority,” Pelosi emphasized. “If people want to be the bridge that I’m building toward, they have to show what’s on the other side of the bridge.”
However, many Democrats have been disavowing Pelosi on the campaign trail. She has responded to this behavior by encouraging Democrats to do what they have to in order to win, including distancing themselves from her.
In addition to the disavowals, some House Democrats have been rallying for new leadership.
Last month Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA), the fifth-ranking House Democrat, called for a “generational change” in the leadership, pointing out that the top three House Democrats, Pelosi, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) , and Clyburn, are all “of the same generation,” in their late 70s.
Notably, fourth-ranking House Democrat Joe Crowley (NY), recently declined to back Pelosi for Speaker. His name had been considered as a potential replacement for Pelosi but he was unseated by 28-year-old Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in June.