Hoyer intensifies push for No. 2 post, claiming lead on Clyburn

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is intensifying his push to capture the No. 2 post in the reshaped Democratic hierarchy, claiming new momentum in his clash with Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.).

“Hoyer is going to win,” a source close to the majority leader told The Hill on Sunday.

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The declaration is a reflection of the aggressive tack the Hoyer camp has adopted in the race for minority whip. Hoyer’s office has been pushing out endorsements from across the House Democratic caucus through the weekend in an effort to highlight support from liberal lawmakers as well as centrists and Blue Dogs, who are considered the majority leader’s base.

Those liberal endorsements include Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of the House committee on global warming.

Hoyer’s staff released on Sunday afternoon a “Dear Colleague” letter endorsing his candidacy signed by 30 House Democrats.

“Majority Leader Hoyer has been an essential part of our Caucus's leadership in the 111th Congress, and we need his leadership in the days ahead,” the lawmakers wrote.

The letter touted the accomplishments of the 111th Congress, such as passage of healthcare reform, Wall Street reform, student lending legislation, credit card reform and the economic stimulus package.

“Majority Leader Hoyer helped make those accomplishments possible by bringing our Caucus together and forcefully standing up for the Democratic principles we share,” they wrote. “Steny is an outstanding listener — and his openness to our Caucus's range of views has always been greatly appreciated and respected.”

The letter was signed by Reps. Linda Sanchez (Calif.), Jim Moran (Va.), Jason Altmire (Pa.), Joe Baca (Calif.), Shelley Berkley (Nev.), Dennis Cardoza (Calif.), Joe Crowley (N.Y.), Ted Deutch (Fla.), John Dingell (Mich.), Sam Farr (Calif.), Gene Green (Texas), Dale Kildee (Mich.), Stephen Lynch (Mass.), Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), Steve Rothman (N.J.), John Sarbanes (Md.), Adam Schiff (Calif.) and Adam Smith (Wash.), among others.

The battle between Hoyer and Clyburn was created Friday when Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced she would run for Democratic leader despite her party’s blowout defeat in the midterm elections. Democrats will lose one leadership position in the minority, and because all of Pelosi’s top lieutenants want to keep their jobs, Hoyer is trying to avoid being squeezed out.

Hoyer’s camp is not releasing a full list of supporters, leading Clyburn allies to question the majority leader’s bold claims of a lead in the race.

Clyburn spokeswoman Kristie Greco said the South Carolina Democrat has been talking to members throughout the weekend, “and he feels confident in the support he’s garnered from a diverse group in the caucus.”


Clyburn supporters include senior members of the Congressional Black Caucus as well as Rep. Luis Gutierrez (Ill.), the chamber’s most prominent Hispanic lawmaker. While Clyburn’s base is among liberals and the black caucus, allies note his Southern roots and that he has campaigned for more Blue Dogs and New Democrats than he has for liberals.

Despite the behind-the-scenes jousting, both sides are trying to keep the race from becoming bitter or negative. Clyburn and Hoyer are friends, and a source said the two men have spoken this weekend, describing the conversation as cordial.

Appearing Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Clyburn touted his candidacy, but said he expected the dispute to be “resolved in such a way that our caucus will be very satisfied with the leadership team going forward.”