Becerra’s Support Gives Clyburn a Boost From Leadership

Posted November 8, 2010 at 5:22pm

Updated: 7:02 p.m.

Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Xavier Becerra (Calif.) has thrown his weight behind Rep. James Clyburn in the increasingly contentious race for Minority Whip between the South Carolina lawmaker and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.).

Becerra became the first Member of the elected leadership to publicly take sides in the Hoyer-Clyburn battle. In a statement released late Monday, he said Clyburn, who is the current Whip, “deserves to be re-elected” in the 112th Congress.

“Through some of the toughest legislative efforts in recent history — from health care to Wall Street reform — Mr. Clyburn found us the votes when they counted most,” Becerra said. “He fought to pass legislation that is putting America back to work and laying the foundation for a future where America leads the world in the new energy economy. He is a stalwart supporter of fixing our broken immigration system and providing every American a decent education and an equal shot at the American Dream. James Clyburn has my vote to continue as our Whip in the 112th Congress.”

Becerra declared on Friday that he will run again for vice chairman in the next Congress. As the lowest-ranking member of the elected leadership, he is in danger of being squeezed out, particularly if Hoyer were to become Whip via a deal in which Clyburn becomes Caucus chairman and current Chairman John Larson (Conn.) is bumped down to vice chairman.

In terms of public endorsements, Hoyer still has the edge. But neither lawmaker is showing signs of backing down, and neither camp has released a complete list of supporters. Hoyer has 42 public backers. With Becerra, a liberal who holds sway with Hispanics and the California delegation, Clyburn has 10 backers.