U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn will endorse Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential nominating contest, a Clinton campaign aide told The State.
The coveted endorsement will come at 11 a.m. at Allen University on Friday, a source close to Clyburn also confirmed.
The endorsement by the state's lone congressional Democrat and third-ranking in the U.S. House comes as Clinton is facing down a tough battle in Nevada, whose Democrats caucus Saturday.
S.C. Democrats vote on Feb. 27.
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has narrowed Clinton's lead in Nevada from more than 20 percentage points to within three points.
A Sanders' win among Nevada's Democrats, including Hispanic and Latino voters, would show that Sanders' appeal extends to minorities, not just the mostly white electorates that supported him in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Clyburn's endorsement could help shore up South Carolina — and the South — as Clinton's firewall. Sanders effectively tied Clinton in Iowa. Clinton lost to the self-described democratic socialist in a historic rout in New Hampshire.
South Carolina is the candidates’ first test among African Americans, expected to make up more than half the voters in the state’s primary.
How candidates perform here will provide insight into how they fare among the Democratic Party’s diverse electorate, reflected in states where voting begins on March 1, when contests spread quickly across the South and West.
Clinton’s lead has dropped off in South Carolina as Sanders has gained support. But the frontrunner remains ahead in the polls, winning in every survey taken of the race. She’s also the favorite of African Americans, recent surveys show.
Clyburn represents a congressional seat stretching from urban Columbia to Charleston and straddling Interstate 95 – dubbed the "Corridor of Shame" for swath of once-flourishing agricultural communities, now struggling from neglect and years of persistently high poverty.
Support from the state's most revered Democrat also provides closure to the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, when a little-known Illinois U.S. senator, Barack Obama, took the primary by storm.
The Clintons faced criticism eight years ago for comments former President Bill Clinton made, comparing Obama to Jesse Jackson who won the state in 1984 and 1988, but did not go on to win the party's nomination.
Clyburn recalled in his memoir an early morning call from Bill Clinton wanting to know why the former first lady lost and accusing Clyburn of making the campaign about race.
“If you bastards want a fight, you damn well will get one,” the former president said, Clyburn wrote in his memoir.
Since then and recently, Clyburn has said there are no hard feelings between him and the Clintons.
Questions about Hillary Clinton's vulnerability have dogged her again this year. But despite Sanders chipping away at her lead, the former secretary of state continues to dominate in the polls, her support bolstered by African Americans.
Clyburn had planned on staying neutral, but said recently that he felt pressure to weigh in on the race.
He said the pressure came especially from Clinton supporters, including his wife and one of his daughters.
The Congressional Black Caucus' political action committee, of which Clyburn is a member, endorsed Clinton.