Jim Clyburn

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James Enos "Jim" Clyburn (born July 21, 1940) is a Democrat who represents South Carolina's District 6 in the U.S. House. He was first elected in 1992, and he is the current Majority Whip in House following the Democratic wins in the 2006 elections which gave control of Congress to the Democrats for the first time since 1994. He represents South Carolina's only majority-black district, which includes all of Florence and large portions of Columbia and Charleston.


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Early life

Clyburn was born in Sumter, South Carolina, the son of Enos Lloyd Clyburn, a fundamentalist minister, and his wife Almeta, a cosmetologist. He attended South Carolina State College (now South Carolina State University) in Orangeburg where he was initiated into Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and graduated with a bachelor's degree in history. He worked as a teacher at C.A. Brown High School in Charleston. After an unsuccessful run for the South Carolina General Assembly, he moved to Columbia to join the staff of Governor John C. West in 1971. In this position he became the first minority advisor to a South Carolina Governor. He was appointed the state's human affairs commissioner by Governor West in 1974, a position in which he held until 1992, when he stepped down to run for Congress.

1992 Election

Following a Supreme Court mandate, the Florence-based 6th district was redrawn as a black-majority district. Five-term incumbent Robin Tallon opted to retire, and five black candidates ran for the Democratic nomination for the seat. Clyburn secured 55% of the vote in the primary, eliminating the need for an expected run-off. The new 6th was so heavily Democratic that Clyburn's primary victory was tantamount to election. He has been reelected seven times, never facing a serious or well-funded challenger.

Congressional career

During the 2004 Democratic presidential primaries, Clyburn supported Dick Gephardt until he dropped out of the race and afterwards supported John Kerry. Clyburn is generally considered to be the most important African-American political leader in his home state and handily won re-election in 2006 against Republican Gary McLeod, who has been his opponent in every election since 1998.

Clyburn was elected as vice-chairman of the House Democratic Caucus in 2003, the third-ranking post in the caucus. He became chairman in early 2006 after caucus chairman Bob Menendez was appointed to the Senate.

After the Democrats won control of the House of Representatives in the 2006 election, Clyburn was unanimously elected as Majority Whip in the 110th Congress, the third-highest leadership post (behind House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer). He is the second African American (behind Bill Gray of Pennsylvania) and the first South Carolinian to hold the position.

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