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Black leadership gets more openly tribal than ever.

Clyburn is the best candidate for Democratic Whip solely because he is black, says caucus. Meanwhile the founder of BET issued an ultimatum to the Democrats. “Lose Clyburn and lose black voters.”

From USA Today…

The chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus says the Democratic leadership race between Reps. Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn is not a choice about one lawmaker versus the other.

But Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., wants this to be clear: An African American needs to be in the room when Nancy Pelosi, the likely top Democratic leader, makes decisions about how to counter the Republican majority.

“This is a multiracial society,” Lee told USA TODAY. Clyburn “brings to the table what needs to be done for communities of color.”

Hoyer and Clyburn are vying for the post of Democratic whip, the No. 2 slot in the party’s leadership when the 112th Congress convenes in January. Democrats are losing a leadership position now that Republicans have won the House majority.

In a letter to his colleagues, Hoyer makes his case that his experience will help unify Democrats.

“I’ve been a leader who has listened, and who has built unity around the Democratic priorities we share,” Hoyer wrote.

Hoyer, currently House majority leader, and Clyburn, who now holds the title of majority whip, have been looking for votes among the Democratic rank-and-file. Each has a vote-counting operation making phone calls and sending out letters on their behalf.

More tribal than ever. Clyburn recently broke rank with white Democrats and campaigned for disgraced black Louisiana State Rep Cedric Richmond.

Many white Democrats found Clyburn’s race-based backing of Richmond to be an embarrassment. Richmond had his law license suspended for using a false address to run for a city council seat in 2008. Richmond is also facing charges for a violent bar fight. Richmond is also accused of receiving kickbacks from charities in exchange for supporting their candidacy for state grant money.