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Democrat

Rep. James Clyburn (D)

Leadership: Assistant Democratic Leader
James Clyburn Contact
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DC Contact Information

Phone: 202-225-3315

Address: 242 CHOB, DC 20515

State Office Contact Information

Phone: (803) 799-1100

Address: 1225 Lady Street, Columbia SC 29201-3347

Kingstree SC

Phone: (843) 355-1211

Fax: (843) 355-1232

Address: 130 West Main Street, Kingstree SC 29556-3344

Santee SC

Phone: (803) 854-4700

Fax: (803) 854-4900

Address: 176 Brooks Boulevard, Santee SC 29142

James Clyburn Staff
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Link, Craig
Legislative Assistant; Counsel
Pfeiffer, Amy
Senior Advisor
Whitehouse, Lin
Legislative Correspondent
Link, Craig
Legislative Assistant; Counsel
Pfeiffer, Amy
Senior Advisor
Pfeiffer, Amy
Senior Advisor
Link, Craig
Legislative Assistant; Counsel
Pfeiffer, Amy
Senior Advisor
Ellison, Matthew
Legislative Assistant
Link, Craig
Legislative Assistant; Counsel
Link, Craig
Legislative Assistant; Counsel
Pfeiffer, Amy
Senior Advisor
Whitehouse, Lin
Legislative Correspondent
Ellison, Matthew
Legislative Assistant
Link, Craig
Legislative Assistant; Counsel
Ellison, Matthew
Legislative Assistant
Ellison, Matthew
Legislative Assistant
Link, Craig
Legislative Assistant; Counsel
Pfeiffer, Amy
Senior Advisor
Link, Craig
Legislative Assistant; Counsel
Ellison, Matthew
Legislative Assistant
Link, Craig
Legislative Assistant; Counsel
Link, Craig
Legislative Assistant; Counsel
Link, Craig
Legislative Assistant; Counsel
Link, Craig
Legislative Assistant; Counsel
Link, Craig
Legislative Assistant; Counsel
Link, Craig
Legislative Assistant; Counsel
Link, Craig
Legislative Assistant; Counsel
Link, Craig
Legislative Assistant; Counsel
Pfeiffer, Amy
Senior Advisor
Link, Craig
Legislative Assistant; Counsel
Link, Craig
Legislative Assistant; Counsel
Pfeiffer, Amy
Senior Advisor
Ellison, Matthew
Legislative Assistant
Ellison, Matthew
Legislative Assistant
Link, Craig
Legislative Assistant; Counsel
Barnes, Kenneth
Casework Coordinator
Birch Kelly, Lindy
Scheduler; Director of Special Projects; Senior Advisor
Devlin, Patrick
Communications Director
Ellison, Matthew
Legislative Assistant
Lindler, Melissa
Scheduler; Outreach Director
Link, Craig
Legislative Assistant; Counsel
Loveday, Amanda
Communications Director
Nance, Robert
District Director
Palmer, Ashli
Policy Director
Pfeiffer, Amy
Senior Advisor
Smith, Carole
Casework Supervisor
Stukes, Gail
Staff Assistant
Tresvant, Dalton
Midlands Area Director
Ward, Larry
Staff Assistant
Whitehouse, Lin
Legislative Correspondent
Birch Kelly, Lindy
Scheduler; Director of Special Projects; Senior Advisor
Pfeiffer, Amy
Senior Advisor
Devlin, Patrick
Communications Director
Loveday, Amanda
Communications Director
Barnes, Kenneth
Casework Coordinator
Link, Craig
Legislative Assistant; Counsel
Birch Kelly, Lindy
Scheduler; Director of Special Projects; Senior Advisor
Lindler, Melissa
Scheduler; Outreach Director
Nance, Robert
District Director
Palmer, Ashli
Policy Director
Tresvant, Dalton
Midlands Area Director
Ellison, Matthew
Legislative Assistant
Link, Craig
Legislative Assistant; Counsel
Whitehouse, Lin
Legislative Correspondent
Birch Kelly, Lindy
Scheduler; Director of Special Projects; Senior Advisor
Lindler, Melissa
Scheduler; Outreach Director
Stukes, Gail
Staff Assistant
Ward, Larry
Staff Assistant
Smith, Carole
Casework Supervisor
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James Clyburn Biography
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  • Elected: 1992, 11th term.
  • District: South Carolina 6
  • Born: Jul. 21, 1940, Sumter
  • Home: Columbia
  • Education:

    SC St. U., B.A. 1962

  • Professional Career:

    Teacher, 1962–66; Dir., Charleston Neighborhood Youth Corps, 1966–68; Exec. dir., SC Comm. for Farm Workers, 1968–71; Asst., SC Gov. West, 1971–74; SC Human Affairs Comm., 1974–92.

  • Ethnicity: Black/African American
  • Religion:

    African Methodist Episcopal

  • Family: Married (Emily); 3 children

James Clyburn, a Democrat elected in 1992, is the the highest ranking African-American in Congress and the dean of his state’s otherwise all-Republican delegation. He is the assistant minority leader, the third-ranking position in the House Democratic leadership—a job created for him after his party lost its House majority in 2011. Read More

James Clyburn, a Democrat elected in 1992, is the the highest ranking African-American in Congress and the dean of his state’s otherwise all-Republican delegation. He is the assistant minority leader, the third-ranking position in the House Democratic leadership—a job created for him after his party lost its House majority in 2011.

Clyburn grew up in Sumter, the son of a minister, and was educated at a private, all-black boarding school. As a young man, he joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which took its cues from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In 1960, he was one of seven people who organized the state’s first sit-ins, at a five-and-dime store in the Orangeburg town square. He met his wife while in jail for three days. Clyburn worked as a teacher, as an employment counselor, and in government antipoverty programs. In 1970, he ran for the South Carolina House and lost narrowly. Democratic Gov. John West appointed Clyburn as state Human Affairs commissioner, and he served 18 years, under two Democratic and two Republican governors. He ran twice for secretary of state, in 1978 and 1986, losing narrowly.

Then, the new black-majority 6th District was created. Clyburn ran for the seat and in the Democratic primary won 56% of the vote against four African-American opponents, all with serious claims to the nomination. Clyburn was better known, ran first or second in every part of the district, and piled up 88% of the vote in his home county of Sumter. Clyburn became the first African-American to represent South Carolina in Congress since George Washington Murray (a distant relative of his) left in 1897. He has not faced serious opposition for reelection.

In the House, Clyburn established a moderate-to-liberal voting record and, in his early years, focused on local priorities. He also joined the moderate New Democrat Coalition at its inception in 1997, the only African-American House member to do so. Like other South Carolina lawmakers, he is a proponent of expanding the use of nuclear power, which provides more than half of the state’s electricity. On the Appropriations Committee from 1998 to 2006, Clyburn focused on securing federal funds to develop the Interstate 95 corridor, which passes through rural counties in the district that historically were dependent on tobacco and cotton. The House twice passed his bill to create a Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor from northern Florida to North Carolina.

Clyburn was chosen as chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1999, and in that role, he urged the Democratic National Committee to become more responsive to African-Americans. After the 2002 election, he ran for vice chairman of the Democratic Caucus, arguing that the leadership needed to better reflect the party’s diversity. He prevailed with 95 votes to 56 for New York Rep. Gregory Meeks and 53 for California Rep. Zoe Lofgren. In 2006, he was elected Democratic Caucus chairman, the No. 4 position in the party leadership, and later that year, after Democrats won control of the House, he was chosen majority whip, the No. 3 post. Then-Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois also wanted to be whip but had less seniority than Clyburn, and he backed down at the urging of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who favored Clyburn. Emanuel took Clyburn’s spot as Democratic Caucus chairman in recognition of his work raising money and successfully recruiting challengers in the pivotal 2006 election, when he chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Clyburn sought enhanced influence for his whip organization in crafting policy, a way of getting more points of view from across party factions into the process of drafting major legislation. In 2007, he held a series of “listening sessions” with Democrats to explore options for an immigration bill. He also coordinated the House’s response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, leading the Hurricane Katrina Task Force, which had regular meetings with local officials. “I truly believe that if the demographics of the affected areas had been different, the response of the federal government would have been different,” he said in a 2007 speech in Baton Rouge. Clyburn also finessed a solution to a longstanding complaint by the CBC that they were prevented from advancing in the Democratic caucus because they couldn’t pay their “dues” by raising large amounts of political donations in their disproportionately low-income districts. Clyburn convinced Pelosi to adopt a modified system that rewarded Democrats for non-financial contributions, such as making appearances for candidates and doing press interviews.

As the most prominent black politician in the state, Clyburn has been a player in South Carolina’s often pivotal Democratic presidential primary. In 2004, after his first choice candidate, Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri, withdrew after the Iowa caucuses, Clyburn endorsed front-runner John Kerry rather than South Carolina native John Edwards. Although he did not take sides in the 2008 primary, he clashed with Hillary Clinton when she seemed to suggest that President Lyndon Johnson, in signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, had a more important role than King and other key civil rights figures at the time. As the leader of an older generation of civil rights leaders, he was initially skeptical that Obama could win the nomination. When Obama clinched it in June 2008, Clyburn told a radio interviewer that he went home to watch it alone on television “because what I was feeling was indescribable, and I was afraid that I would not be able to control my emotions.”

After the election, Clyburn got into an unusual conflict with Republican Gov. Mark Sanford, who said that he would not use all of the money available to South Carolina in the Democrats’ economic stimulus bill enacted in February 2009. Clyburn called the action a “slap in the face” to the predominately black constituents who would benefit. He also wrote a clause into the $787 billion stimulus bill that enabled state legislatures to bypass governors who rejected the money. Clyburn took on another South Carolina conservative, House colleague Joe Wilson, after Wilson infamously called out “You lie!” during Obama’s health care address to Congress in 2009. Clyburn pressed a resolution formally reproaching Wilson for a breach of House rules, which passed on a largely party-line vote.

When Democrats lost the House majority in 2010, they no longer controlled the speakership and so lost one spot in their leadership lineup. Pelosi became leader, the top job in the minority. But a battle shaped up for the No. 2 position of minority whip between Clyburn and former majority leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland. Both had a legitimate claim: Clyburn had already been doing the whip’s job for four years in the majority, and for his part, Hoyer had a right to expect to remain in a No. 2 role, as he had in the majority. An intense, behind-the-scenes rivalry unfolded, with each camp touting his greater level of support in the caucus. To avoid a divisive outcome, Pelosi created the new job of assistant leader and made it the No. 3 post in the minority hierarchy. Clyburn was named assistant leader, and Hoyer became minority whip.

Clyburn’s new job wasn’t well-defined, but he used it to become one of his party’s main messengers. After the Newtown, Conn., elementary school massacre, he compared the push for gun control to the civil rights movement. When President Barack Obama’s health care law was a hot topic on the 2012 campaign trail, he told a gathering of South Carolina Democrats, “Do not be afraid to use the term ‘Obamacare.’ You should be proud of Obamacare.” He spoke out forcefully against state voter-identification laws that he and other critics said disenfranchised minority voters. He also occasionally did spin control, such as after Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley answered “no” when asked if Americans were better off than they were four years earlier. “I think the governor was trying not to be too boastful,” Clyburn told reporters. But he wasn’t always on the same page as other Democrats; an Obama campaign spokeswoman disavowed his May 2012 remark that Republican Mitt Romney’s private equity firm Bain Capital was guilty of “raping” other companies.

During the frequent closed-door talks on taxes and spending in the 112th Congress (2011-12), Clyburn went to bat for low-income minorities. At one such meeting in June 2011, according to Robert Draper’s book Do Not Ask What Good We Do, he listened to Minority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., propose turning food stamps into a block grant program and allowing states to do what they wanted with the money. “If you knew the history of my state, you wouldn’t be in favor of that,” Clyburn reportedly responded. Cantor never mentioned the idea again, although Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, resurrected it as part of his 2012 budget proposal.

Black Caucus members in February 2013 suggested Clyburn as a potential replacement for former Rep. Ray LaHood as secretary of Transportation, but his spokesman shot down the idea.

Show Less
James Clyburn Election Results
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2012 General
James Clyburn (D)
Votes: 218,717
Percent: 94.42%
Nammu Muhammad
Votes: 12,920
Percent: 5.58%
2012 Primary
James Clyburn (D)
Unopposed
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (63%), 2008 (67%), 2006 (64%), 2004 (67%), 2002 (67%), 2000 (72%), 1998 (73%), 1996 (69%), 1994 (64%), 1992 (65%)
James Clyburn Votes and Bills
Back to top NJ Vote Ratings

National Journal’s rating system is an objective method of analyzing voting. The liberal score means that the lawmaker’s votes were more liberal than that percentage of his colleagues’ votes. The conservative score means his votes were more conservative than that percentage of his colleagues’ votes. The composite score is an average of a lawmaker’s six issue-based scores. See all NJ Voting

More Liberal
More Conservative
2013 2012 2011
Economic 70 (L) : 29 (C) 82 (L) : 18 (C) 70 (L) : 30 (C)
Social 73 (L) : 24 (C) 73 (L) : 26 (C) 80 (L) : - (C)
Foreign 62 (L) : 38 (C) 65 (L) : 34 (C) 78 (L) : 18 (C)
Composite 69.0 (L) : 31.0 (C) 73.7 (L) : 26.3 (C) 80.0 (L) : 20.0 (C)
Interest Group Ratings

The vote ratings by 10 special interest groups provide insight into a lawmaker’s general ideology and the degree to which he or she agrees with the group’s point of view. Two organizations provide just one combined rating for 2011 and 2012, the two sessions of the 112th Congress. They are the ACLU and the ITIC. About the interest groups.

20112012
FRC1016
LCV9171
CFG818
ITIC-83
NTU1211
20112012
COC31-
ACLU-92
ACU04
ADA9070
AFSCME100-
Key House Votes

The key votes show how a member of Congress voted on the major bills of the year. N indicates a "no" vote; Y a "yes" vote. If a member voted "present" or was absent, the bill caption is not shown. For a complete description of the bills included in key votes, see the Almanac's Guide to Usage.

    • Pass GOP budget
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2012
    • End fiscal cliff
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Extend payroll tax cut
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Stop student loan hike
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2012
    • Repeal health care
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2012
    • Raise debt limit
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Pass cut, cap, balance
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Defund Planned Parenthood
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Repeal lightbulb ban
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Add endangered listings
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Speed troop withdrawal
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Regulate financial firms
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Pass tax cuts for some
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Stop detainee transfers
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2010
    • Legalize immigrants' kids
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Repeal don't ask, tell
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Limit campaign funds
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Overturn Ledbetter
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass $820 billion stimulus
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Let guns in national parks
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass cap-and-trade
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Bar federal abortion funds
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass health care bill
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Bail out financial markets
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2008
    • Repeal D.C. gun law
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2008
    • Overhaul FISA
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2008
    • Increase minimum wage
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
    • Expand SCHIP
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
    • Raise CAFE standards
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
    • Share immigration data
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • Foreign aid abortion ban
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • Ban gay bias in workplace
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
    • Withdraw troops 8/08
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
    • No operations in Iran
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
    • Free trade with Peru
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
Read More
James Clyburn Leadership Staff
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Birch Kelly, Lindy
Director, Special Events; Scheduler
Day, Tamika
Special Assistant to the Minority Leader
Devlin, Patrick
Communications Director
Ellison, Matthew
Legislative Assistant
Palmer, Ashli
Director, Policy
Pfeiffer, Amy
Senior Advisor, Policy
Pfeiffer, Amy
Senior Advisor, Policy
Devlin, Patrick
Communications Director
Birch Kelly, Lindy
Director, Special Events; Scheduler
Palmer, Ashli
Director, Policy
Ellison, Matthew
Legislative Assistant
Birch Kelly, Lindy
Director, Special Events; Scheduler
Day, Tamika
Special Assistant to the Minority Leader
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The Almanac is a members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics. Comprehensive online profiles include biographical and political summaries of elected officials, campaign expenditures, voting records, interest-group ratings, and congressional staff look-ups. In-depth overviews of each state and house district are included as well, along with demographic data, analysis of voting trends, and political histories.
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