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Rep. James Clyburn, 82, holds House Democratic leadership position

Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., right, addresses a crowd at the Blue Palmetto Dinner in South Carolina on June 10. He was elected to the No. 4 Democratic leadership position on Thursday. File Photo by Sean Rayford/UPI
Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., right, addresses a crowd at the Blue Palmetto Dinner in South Carolina on June 10. He was elected to the No. 4 Democratic leadership position on Thursday. File Photo by Sean Rayford/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Rep. James Clyburn bucked the Democratic youth moment on Thursday, winning the No. 4 leadership seat for the House Democrats after Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., dropped his challenge.

Cicilline, 61, chair of the House Democrats LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, launched a last-minute surprise bid against Clyburn, 82, who has been part of Democratic House leadership for two decades and a close friend of President Joe Biden.

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Cicilline dropped out just before voting.

"I am honored by [House Democrats'] support of me to serve as the assistant Democratic leader in the 118th Congress," Clyburn said on Twitter. "It is important that the South, rural communities, and those left out of economic progress of previous generations have a seat at the leadership table next Congress."

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Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., a close friend of Clyburn, said Democrats need to figure out a way to get Cicilline into a leadership role.

"The point [Cicilline] wanted to make is legitimate, which is that LGBTQ members are a significant part of our caucus and we did not have one in any position of leadership," said Cleaver, who is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus with Clyburn.

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"I think everyone understands that we probably should have been a little more intentional during the move to get people to run for positions."

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Highlighting the recent shooting at a gay bar in Colorado, Cicilline stressed the need for the LGBTQ+ community to be part of Democratic leadership. Two members in the leadership ranks -- Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., and Mondaire Jones, D-N.Y., both lost their reelections to stay in Congress during midterms.

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