By MEG KINNARD
U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn filed Monday to seek a 16th term representing South Carolina’s 6th District, saying he’s headed into his next campaign as long as his health and family support stay strong.
“I’m in pretty good health, so I’ll keep going until either my health tells me to quit, or my three daughters,” Clyburn, 81, told The Associated Press.
Clyburn said he monitors his cholesterol closely and heeds his doctor’s advice, even taking a small dose of Aspirin daily.
“I’ve told them, if you ever see that I need to go to the rocking chair or spend my spare time on the golf course, let me know,” he added, of his daughters’ counsel. “And so far, they’re telling me, from what they feel and hear, I should keep going.”
As of Monday afternoon, no other candidates had filed with state officials to take on Clyburn, currently South Carolina’s lone congressional Democrat. First elected in 1992, Clyburn represents the district that sweeps from areas around the capital of Columbia through rural central and eastern counties down to Charleston.
Since then, he has risen to the No. 3 Democrat in the House. He is also the highest-ranking Black member of Congress, advocating for a variety of issues including rural broadband access and chairing a congressional panel focused on issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s his pivotal role in the 2020 presidential election for which Clyburn has drawn his party’s acclaim. Clyburn’s endorsement of Joe Biden ahead of South Carolina’s primary is credited with helping the Democrat revive a then-flailing campaign and score a resounding victory in the first-in-the-South balloting.
Several Democrats have filed federal fundraising paperwork to challenge Clyburn, although only one — educator Gregg Marcel Dixon — has reported taking in any money, marking about $11,000 as of the end of last year.
South Carolina’s primary elections will be held June 14. Filing closes March 30.
Clyburn won his 2020 reelection by nearly 40 percentage points and has nearly $2.5 million in his reelection war chest. Feeling confident in his own contest, Clyburn said he plans to spend time campaigning for other Democrats, scheduling swings to California, New York, North Carolina, Florida and Georgia.
“I’ll be going to those states in the next several weeks, helping as many candidates as I possibly can,” he said.
Clyburn filed his candidacy papers on the opening day of confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, whom Biden has nominated to fill the U.S. Supreme Court seat soon to be vacated by retiring Justice Stephen Breyer. She is the first Black female nominee to the high court, something Biden pledged he would do following a suggestion from Clyburn ahead of South Carolina’s primary.
Clyburn had lobbied for Michelle Childs — a South Carolina federal judge already nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit — to get the nod, saying Monday he felt certain Childs would make the shortlist if Biden gets the chance to pick another nominee.
“From all that I hear, the president had no problems with Michelle,” Clyburn said. “He couldn’t make but one appointment, and so he went with Ketanji.”
On Monday, Clyburn said he looked forward to continuing to work with Biden, with whom he said he doesn’t always agree. But he said differences were a starting point for making progress — and not a point of disunity.
“We try to find common ground and move forward collectively,” he said, noting that he often disagreed politically with his late wife Emily, whom he held as a top adviser and confidante.
“I don’t think we can grow as a country if we all agree. President Biden and I agree on a lot, but we don’t agree on everything.”