U.S. Rep. Clyburn wins new House Democratic Party post as Cicilline bows out

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus speak in favor of voting rights legislation during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Representative James Clyburn on Thursday was elected to be assistant House Democratic leader starting in January, after Representative David Cicilline dropped his bid for the job that he had hoped would raise the gay community's profile.

Cicilline, an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, abandoned the race against Clyburn after receiving assurances from leadership that the gay community's interests will be represented, according to a House Democratic aide.

Cicilline easily won re-election to the House on Nov. 8 and will continue representing his Rhode Island constituents for another two-year term.

Clyburn, 82, currently serves as party "whip," the No. 2 House Democratic leadership position. He is retiring from that role to give way to a younger slate of top leaders. Representative Katherine Clark, 59, was elected to the No. 2 spot on Wednesday.

As assistant Democratic leader, Clyburn, who represents a South Carolina district, will lend a southerner's voice to his party's newly constituted House leadership.

"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," Clyburn said in a statement.

Clark is from Massachusetts. Hakeem Jeffries, the incoming Democratic leader, hails from New York and Pete Aguilar, the newly elected Democratic Caucus chairman, represents a district in California.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Mark Porter)