U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., the most senior black lawmaker in Congress, headed to Kansas this weekend to campaign with Democrats in two close congressional races.
Clyburn has said he would run for speaker if Democrats manage to wrest back control of the U.S. House of Representatives — and if Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California doesn’t have the votes to win.
Clyburn currently is the third ranking House Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
His presence in Kansas demonstrates the strategic importance of highly competitive contests in the state’s 2nd and 3rd congressional districts, which Democrats hope to flip from red to blue in November.
“Nobody would believe that the former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, who people say could become the first African-American speaker of the House, that my presence in Kansas would be requested,” Clyburn told McClatchy. “I mean, that’s not where you go. But I’m going there.”
Clyburn appeared with Democrat Sharice Davids, running against Republican U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, and Democrat Paul Davis, who is aiming to win the open House seat in the 2nd congressional district. The two visited a pair of churches in Wyandotte County on Sunday, her campaign said.
If elected, Davids would be the first female Native American to serve in Congress and the first openly gay member of the Kansas delegation.
Both races are considered possible pickup opportunities for Democrats in November, which could help them take control of the House away from Republicans.
Davis has said repeatedly since announcing his campaign that he will not vote for Pelosi for House speaker.
If Pelosi doesn’t garner enough support, the door could open for Clyburn, or another Democratic leader like Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, the second in command of the House Democrats. Hoyer donated to Davis’ campaign earlier during the 2018 cycle.
“It’s just not what this trip is about,” Davis spokeswoman Haley Pollock said. “Paul is on the record as saying that he’s not thinking about the leadership race in any capacity other than what he’s already said.”
Clyburn was expected to appear with Davis at a roundtable with faith leaders on Sunday.
Davids did not rule out supporting Pelosi, or Clyburn, in a statement to The Star.
“Washington is broken and I think leadership from both parties — Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi — need to accept responsibility for the partisan mess,” she said. “I will not support anyone for leadership who doesn’t articulate their plan to change the way business is being done in Washington.”