Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) is accusing Democrats of using racial “dog whistles” to oust him from the party’s House leadership.
Clyburn is the highest-ranking black Democrat in leadership as the assistant leader, and he is seeking to regain his Majority Whip position that he held the last time Democrats were in the majority.
“I don’t know where it’s all coming from,” Clyburn reportedly told McClatchy on Tuesday. “But someone came to me over the weekend and told me that (they heard), when I was whip before, I was a figurehead.”
According to McClatchy, Clyburn, who said that “nothing could be further from the truth,” reportedly added that “suggestions that, as the only black member of the leadership team, he was a token and not an effective leader, were tantamount to ‘the little dog whistles that have been floating around this side for a long time.’”
Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) is challenging Clyburn for the Majority Whip position, and her spokesperson reportedly said DeGette “categorically and respectfully rejected” the notion that she or her allies were downplaying Clyburn’s accomplishments or using racial dog whistles.
As McClatchy noted, “Clyburn came of age in the segregated South, was frequently jailed for fighting for civil rights and didn’t win his first election until 1992, at the age of 52.”
At a time when black Democrats feel that the party has not been elevating black Democrats even though black voters have been the party’s backbone, Clyburn’s Majority Whip race has taken on an added importance for the Congressional Black Caucus.
Clyburn, who is one of the most revered black Democrats, also plays a key role during presidential election cycles as his Fish Fry is to Palmetto State what former Sen. Tom Harkin’s Steak Fry was to Iowa.
Every serious Democrat running for president will be lining up to attend Clyburn’s annual “World Famous Fish Fry” event hoping to make a lasting impression on South Carolin’s important primary voters.