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Amid speculation about the future of the highest levels of leadership within the Democratic Party, Capitol Hill mainstay and high-ranking Congressman and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn is not only seeking re-election at the age of 81, but he is also all but daring any candidates to challenge him for the seat he’s held for nearly the past three decades.
In a recent interview on “Axios on HBO,” Clyburn literally shrugged off the notion that he was somehow hogging his seat in Congress instead of stepping aside and allowing a new, fresher slate of candidates to compete for South Carolina’s 6th Congressional District and usher in a relative youth movement.
Noting that President Joe Biden, another member of the aging so-called Democratic establishment, would be 82 when he’s up for re-election in 2024, Axios political reporter Alexi McCammond asked Clyburn: “When do you think it’s time for the Party to create a path for the next generation?”
Clyburn rejected the implication.
“The path is there for the next generation,” the highly influential congressman told McCammond.
He said he never enjoyed such a privilege when he ran for and won his seat in Congress 28 years ago in 1993.
“I never asked anybody to die for me,” Clyburn said.
He later doubled down on that sentiment and suggested it was absurd to ask him to resign just so a different group of lawmakers could take over. Clyburn then challenged people who want to run for his seat to do it the traditional way.
“I don’t know why people come saying you need to step aside for me,” he added. “No. If you want my seat, come get it.”
Watch the brief exchange below.
It was unclear if Clyburn was directing his words to anyone in particular, what with the progressive arm of the Democratic Party frequently making such suggestions about establishment Democrats.
However, it was reported in 2019 that popular civil rights lawyer, political pundit and former South Carolina State Rep. Bakari Sellers would likely run for Congress whenever Clyburn retires.
“I think it would be political malpractice for me not to be getting prepared to run for office and run for the 6th Congressional District,” Sellers told the Post and Courier at the time.
Sellers’ also co-signed Clyburn’s recently expressed sentiment two years ago about the coveted Congressional seat.
“Many Democrats are always mindful of the attempts to just hand off a seat from one person to another,” Sellers added. “It won’t be something that’s passed down. It’s going to be a fight of ideas on the ballot.”
Either way, there is no denying how influential Clyburn remains. He’s been called a “kingmaker” and is seen as among Biden’s top advisers. It was Clyburn’s presidential endorsement of Biden that is largely credited for turning that candidacy around following the crucial South Carolina primary last year.
At the time, the Washington Post reported that “Sixty percent of black voters cited the Clyburn endorsement as an important factor in their decision.”