Steny Hoyer to Run for House Democratic Whip, Setting Up Race With Clyburn

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer received the support of seven Democratic committee chairmen for his bid to continue as the second-ranking member of the Democrats’ leadership team in the U.S. House.

The seven, including Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank of Massachusetts, circulated a letter today urging Democratic colleagues to support Hoyer in the contest against James Clyburn for the job of minority whip.

“He is one of our party’s most effective messengers, with the ability to challenge Republicans on the floor, build support for our party’s middle-class policies across America, and fight back against” against special-interest money that aided Republicans in the election, the letter said.

Hoyer announced he is seeking the position yesterday in a letter to members of the Democratic Caucus. Clyburn, of South Carolina, currently holds the post of whip and declared his candidacy Nov. 5 to remain in the job.

Because they lost their House majority for the next Congress in last week’s midterm elections, the Democrats are losing a spot in their leadership ranks. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 70, announced Nov. 5 that she would run for minority leader. So far, she is unopposed for that position.

Support from Caucus

“Over the past several days, I have talked to most of my Democratic colleagues” and “have received support from across the breadth of our caucus,” Hoyer, of Maryland, said in a statement yesterday accompanying the release of the letter to the chamber’s Democrats.

Hoyer, 71, has spent the last few days rounding up support for the race against Clyburn, 70. The leadership vote for both parties will take place after members return to Washington for the lame-duck session starting Nov. 15.

Today’s letter by the seven committee chairmen called Hoyer “a tested leader” who can help Democrats “win back the majority.”

The chairmen also include Massachusetts Representative Edward Markey, chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, and Representative Henry Waxman of California, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

On Nov. 7, Hoyer’s staff released a letter from 30 House members who urged fellow Democrats to support Hoyer for minority whip.

‘Stand Up to Republicans’

Hoyer is “well suited to stand up to Republicans” and is someone “who understands the economic frustration that played such a large role in the outcome of last week’s election,” said the letter signed by California Representative Linda Sanchez and 29 other Democrats, including John Dingell of Michigan.

Separately, California Representative Jane Harman announced that she will support Hoyer “for whatever post he seeks in our leadership.” Niki Tsongas of Massachusetts is also backing Hoyer, her press secretary said.

Democrats lost at least 60 House seats in the Nov. 2 elections, meaning their caucus will contain about 188 members. To win the secret ballot, a candidate would need at least 95 votes.

The website Hotline On Call, part of National Journal, said today that 50 Democrats had publicly said they would support Hoyer, while Clyburn had the backing of 12.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Rowley in Washington at jarowley@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva in Washington at Msilva34@bloomberg.net.

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