UPDATE: Cicilline folded his bid Thursday, a source tells The Public's Radio, after receiving assurances the LGBTQ+ community will be represented in the new House leadership.

On Wednesday, Cicilline unveiled a surprise challenge to 82-year-old South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn for the role of assistant leader of the Democratic caucus.

One Politico newsletter trumpeted the news with this subject line: “David Cicilline rocks the House Dems’ boat.”

Cicilline outlined his bid in a three-page letter to his colleagues, arguing that his background, messaging skills and policy experience would make him a valuable addition to leadership as Democras try to regain the majority in 2024.

Cicilline, who is gay, also says it’s important for Democrats’ top ranks to include a member of the LGBTQ+ community, especially considering recent hate crimes and attempts by state legislatures to reduce rights.

“I think it is critical that the House Democratic Leadership team fully reflect the diversity of our caucus and the American people by including an LGBTQ+ member at the leadership table,” Cicilline wrote.

This is Cicilline’s second run for assistant Democratic leader, after a previous loss to Massachusetts Congresswoman Katherine Clark, who has now moved up to the number two post of Democratic whip.

It comes amid a generational shift in power with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York succeeding Nancy Pelosi as the leader of House Democrats. As part of the changes, Clyburn, who had given up the post of whip, was poised to become assistant leader.

It’s unclear how Cicilline will fare while competing against Clyburn, who played an outsized role in reviving Joe Biden’s presidential campaign in 2020. Democrats are expected to vote on the choice Thursday.

Cicilline, a former state representative and two-term mayor of Providence, first won election to the House in 2010.

Ian Donnis can be reached at idonnis@ripr.org