Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn faces the weakest test of his 20-year career in Washington, with no Republican opponent and the only challenger being a habitual Green Party hopeful.
The seemingly free ride to an 11th term against Columbia activist Nammu Muhammad means Clyburn will spend more of his time stumping for President Barack Obama than fretting election night.
His travel schedule for the coming weeks includes visits to North Carolina, Florida and Ohio — key battleground states — where he’ll do speaking appearances and other Obama re-election work.
“We have a tremendous opportunity to pick up four or five seats” in Congress, he said.
Clyburn, 72, has represented the state’s majority black 6th District since 1992, never facing a serious November threat. The seat cuts across swaths of the state’s rural interior and includes parts of Charleston and other parts of the Lowcountry not covered by 1st District Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Scott. He is the only Democrat in South Carolina’s congressional delegation.
The thrust of Clyburn’s traveling speeches is that the country is better off now than when the economic collapse throttled Wall Street in September 2008. “I really don’t spin anything,” Clyburn said. “I simply remind people of what conditions were in the run-up to President Obama’s election and what conditions are today. And the conditions don’t compare.”
He pointed to federal stimulus packages, health care reform and the Charleston Harbor deepening as some of his contributions from the last term.
Clyburn does not expect this to be his last in Washington, saying he is both fit and healthy.
“I doubt I’ll stay around as long as Strom Thurmond. It will be somewhere short of that.”
Meanwhile, Columbia community activist Muhammad, 60, calls himself “a citizen soldier” enlisted to represent the lower rungs of society.
During an interview last week he said Americans are “being lied to daily,” adding that he doubts the official version of the 9/11 airplane terror attacks on the World Trade Center towers.
The way the buildings came down “it seems to suggest the official reason to its collapsing” is not the case, he said.
Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551.