A major power player in South Carolina politics will endorse Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden on Wednesday, according to reports.
Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), the No. 3 Democrat in the House after the speaker and majority leader — and the highest-ranking African-American in Congress — will formally announce his endorsement of the former vice president in an effort to “blunt Bernie Sanders’ momentum before he runs away with the nomination,” according to Politico.
The House Majority Whip has refused to publicly say who he would support in the crowded Democratic primary up to now, only offering public praise for Biden and senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).
Clyburn has, however, pressed for caution against the party picking too progressive of a candidate.
Speaking to The Post and Courier over the weekend, Clyburn expressed his concern that Democrats would face a crippling defeat in the general election if they chose candidates like democratic socialist Sen. Sanders (D-Vt.) or billionaire businessman Tom Steyer.
“I don’t see a whole lot of 2016 in this election. I see a whole lot of 1972,” the South Carolina political heavyweight told the paper, referencing 1972 Democratic nominee George McGovern, a progressive candidate whose bid divided the party and handed the White House to Richard Nixon.
While he said he believes Sanders “brings a lot to the table” and was able to “energize a crowd,” the political heavyweight told CNN on Sunday that he was concerned about how a Sanders’ ticket could impact Democratic seats in Congress.
“On Super Tuesday, people are concerned about this whole self-proclaimed democratic socialist,” Clyburn said. “We are trying to rebuild our party in South Carolina. We are trying to elect more people to Congress.”
South Carolina is a must-win state for the former VP, who experienced a drop in recent polling after disappointing showings at caucuses and primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire and a second-place finish in Nevada.
The late entry of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg into the race — as well as Sanders’ rising support with black voters — led to a decrease in Biden’s African-American support.
Biden has long described the Palmetto State as his campaign’s firewall, even telling supporters in a phone call earlier this month that he viewed the state as a “launching pad” to performing well on Super Tuesday.
The presidential hopeful currently holds a three-point lead ahead of Sanders and Steyer, according to a Real Clear Politics average.
Speaking to reporters Sunday from the campaign trail in South Carolina, Biden said he was “hopeful” he would snag kingmaker Clyburn’s endorsement.
The former veep, who has bet his campaign on a successful finish in South Carolina, said that he had spoken to Clyburn “in the last week or so” and was “not counting on anything” — but that the congressman’s endorsement “will be a big deal.”
A spokesperson for Clyburn did not respond to a Post request for comment.