Rep. James Clyburn pushing for Biden to name black Agriculture Secretary
South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn — one of Joe Biden’s most important political backers — is pushing the president-elect to name an African-American to head the Department of Agriculture.
“I’m sick and tired of people saying that rural America is only Nebraska and Iowa,” Clyburn told The Post on Thanksgiving, referring to two farm states overwhelmingly populated by white residents.
“We — our forebears — were brought here to develop rural America, the plantations,” said Clyburn, the highest ranking black person in the House leadership.
The Democrat is advocating for Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge to be nominated as agricultural secretary
Clyburn noted it was rural blacks in the south — not just in urban areas — that delivered the gusher of votes that propelled Biden to win the Democratic nomination over Bernie Sanders.
Clyburn’s endorsement of Biden before the South Carolina primary is credited with turning around Biden’s struggling campaign. Biden, who served eight years as Barack Obama’s vice president, easily carried South Carolina and subsequently other southern states with significant numbers of black primary voters.
“Rural America is South Carolina, it’s Mississippi, it’s Alabama. It’s Georgia,” Clyburn said of southern states with a huge number of rural black residents.
“It was black rural voters who helped Biden carry Georgia in the general election,” the congressman added.
Clyburn, who formerly was executive director of the South Carolina Commission for Farm Workers, cares deeply about agricultural issues. He said there are broad array of issues that need to be addressed in poor, rural areas including nutrition, and conditions of housing, schools and sewage infrastructure.
Biden’s transition is eying two white midwesterners for the farm post, the New York Times reported: former North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and Tom Vilsack, the former Iowa governor who served as agricultural sector for the Obama White House.
Activists on the left — including Democratic Socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) and Vermont Bernie Sanders — have also made noise about Biden, a moderate, making appointments that include like-minded progressives as well as embracing policies they favor like the Green New Deal.
But it’s Clyburn who speaks for the segment of black America most responsible for making Biden president.