Clyburn passes the torch to Joe Neguse as assistant House Democratic leader – Washington Examiner

House Democrats unanimously elected Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO) to replace Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) on Wednesday, the latest transition of power as longtime Democratic members look to pass on leadership responsibilities to rising members within the party.

Clyburn announced in February he would step down from his post as assistant Democratic leader without providing a reason, but he asserted he would be running for reelection in November. Neguse, who ran unopposed, will take on the assistant leadership role and forgo his position as chairman of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, the House Democrats’ messaging arm.

“I think he’s going to be great,” Clyburn said of Neguse on Wednesday following the leadership election.

When asked if the transition felt like the torch had been passed, the South Carolina Democrat added, “That was the intent.”

Neguse said in a post on X shortly after the election that he was humbled to assume the leadership role.

“I’m deeply humbled and grateful to my colleagues for electing me this morning to serve as Assistant Democratic Leader,” Neguse said. “Working together, I’m confident we’ll continue to deliver real results for the American people, as we continue to put #PeopleOverPolitics, each and everyday!”

Neguse had put his name forward for Democratic caucus chairman in 2022 but later dropped the bid, leaving the House Democrats’ No. 3 position open for Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA). The Colorado Democrat instead chose to run for the party’s policy and communications committee and has held that position since December 2022.

Clyburn, 83, was the last of the remaining House Democratic leadership dynasty after former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and former Majority Leader Steve Hoyer (D-MD) announced plans to step down from leadership in 2022 at ages 81 and 82, respectively. Clyburn had stepped down that year as majority whip but kept on as assistant Democratic leader.

Neguse now joins the ranks of several up-and-coming Democratic leaders who are decades the junior of the previous leaders, including Aguilar, 44, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), 53, and Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-MA), 60.

Aguilar extended congratulations to Neguse and praised Clyburn and the Democratic leaders who came before him, calling them the “Mount Rushmore of Democratic politicians.”

“The fact that we get to benefit from their ideas and their thoughts even today,” Aguilar said at a leadership press conference on Wednesday. “It’s not like you know, picking up the phone and calling someone who’s left — they’re here, they’re walking the halls, they’re sitting in meetings with us. They’re sharing their expertise and their knowledge.

“It’s a benefit to the Democratic caucus, that every member who gets an opportunity to spend with those with those leaders, but particularly for those of us who are in leadership positions now, it’s an amazing opportunity to learn from them, to listen — many of us have done that,” the caucus chairman continued.


In a “Dear Colleague” letter sent in February, Neguse detailed that he would grow his new position by expanding and improving training for both members and personnel in Washington, D.C., launching a “one-stop-shop” with district and state-specific materials, and enhancing orientation programs for new members.

Neguse’s candidacy for assistant Democratic leader set off a competitive race to fill his chairmanship for the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee. Reps. Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), and Lauren Underwood (D-IL) have put themselves forward in the race to replace Neguse, but that election will occur at another date. Escobar and Underwood serve as co-chairwomen on the committee.