Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.) and Whip James Clyburn (S.C.) are burning up the phone lines as they work separately to nail down votes in what promises to be a contentious battle for the No. 2 spot in the Democratic minority.
Sources close to each camp said they were each calling colleagues Saturday to line up support in the race for Minority Whip. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) announced Friday that she would run for Minority Leader, setting up the Whip showdown between Hoyer and Clyburn, who each announced plans to run for the position.
Neither camp would say specifically how many votes they’d locked down as of midday, but a Democratic aide said Hoyer was “feeling very good and thankful for the support,” while a source close to Clyburn said he was “building support across the Caucus.”
Hoyer has already secured the backing of Congressional Progressive Caucus members Reps. Ed Markey (Mass.), Peter Welch (Vt.), Jared Polis (Colo.), Robert Brady (Pa.) and Jim Moran (Va.).
And in a move that appears meant to underscore that Hoyer's support extends to liberals in the Caucus, Polis penned a letter to his House Democratic colleagues Saturday, urging them to support Hoyer's Whip bid.
"I believe that it is in the best interests of our Caucus to keep Majority Leader Hoyer as a member of our Democratic leadership team — a team that helped Democrats pass a range of landmark legislation," Polis wrote. "Keeping Steny Hoyer in leadership will help to unify our Caucus and ensure that House Democrats hit the ground running in the new Congress."
He also has the public backing of Reps. Lois Capps (Calif.) and John Garamendi (Calif.), as well as at least two members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus: Rep. Silvestre Reyes (Texas) and Del. Pedro Pierluisi (Puerto Rico).
Clyburn’s early public supporters include Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee (Calif.), Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson (Miss.) and CBC Vice Chairman Emanuel Cleaver (Mo.).
Hoyer is also expected to draw broad support from moderates, while CBC members could constitute a power center for Clyburn.
Hoyer is no stranger to a contentious leadership brawl. Four years ago, he trounced Pelosi-backed Rep. John Murtha (Pa.) to win the Majority Leader post. Hoyer beat Murtha 149-86 in that race, but his base of support took a beating Tuesday night with the defeat of roughly two dozen Members of the conservative Blue Dog Coalition.