WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Jim Clyburn, the No. 3 Democrat in the House of Representatives and an influential black lawmaker from the early voting state of South Carolina, is expected on Wednesday to endorse Joe Biden’s presidential bid, according to a Politico report on Sunday.
Reuters could not independently verify that the endorsement was forthcoming. Representatives for both Clyburn and Biden did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Clyburn’s endorsement could be significant ahead of South Carolina’s primary on Saturday, the Democrats’ fourth presidential nominating contest. A majority of Democratic voters in the state are black.
Biden, who delivered lackluster finishes in both Iowa and New Hampshire, is projected to finish second in Nevada, where the votes from Saturday’s caucuses are still being tabulated.
A win in South Carolina is crucial for the former vice president, whose campaign told supporters after the New Hampshire primary that he would not be able to remain in the race if he did not secure a win in the Southern state.
Senator Bernie Sanders scored an overwhelming victory in Nevada, the second consecutive state he has won in the state-by-state Democratic nominating contest to select a challenger to Republican President Donald Trump in the November election.
Sanders’ strong finish has stoked further concerns among some Democrats that since he is the most liberal candidate, he will have a difficult time beating Trump.
Clyburn told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that he expected to announce his endorsement on Wednesday. He has appeared at Biden events in the past.
He also cast doubt on whether Sanders would receive his backing.
“I think that Bernie Sanders brings a lot to the table for people to consider,” Clyburn said. “Anybody who refers to themselves as a democratic socialist, that word has always had really dire consequences throughout South Carolina.”
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