US Democrats Elect Tom Perez to Lead Party against Trump

For­mer La­bor sec­re­tary to face the daunt­ing task of re­build­ing the party

The Economic Times - - Around The World -

At­lanta: US Democrats elected for­mer La­bor Sec­re­tary Tom Perez as chair­man on Satur­day, choos­ing a vet­eran of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion to lead the daunt­ing task of re­build­ing the party and head­ing the op­po­si­tion to Repub­li­can Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. Mem­bers of the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee, the ad­min­is­tra­tive and fundrais­ing arm of the party, picked Perez on the sec­ond round of vot­ing over US Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Keith El­li­son, a lib­eral from Min­nesota. Fol lowi ng one of t he most crowded and com­pet­i­tive party lead­er­ship elec­tions in decades, Perez faces a chal­lenge in unifying and re­ju­ve­nat­ing a party still reel­ing from the No­vem­ber 8 loss of Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton. He im­me­di­ately made El­li­son his deputy.

Af­ter los­ing the pres­i­dency and fail­ing to re­cap­ture ma­jori­ties in Congress, party lead­ers are anx­ious to chan­nel the grow­ing grass­roots re­sis­tance to Trump into po­lit­i­cal sup­port for Democrats at all lev­els of gov­ern­ment across the coun­try.

“We are suf­fer­ing from a cri­sis of con­fi­dence, a cri­sis of rel­e­vance,” Perez, a favourite of for mer Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials, told DNC mem­bers. He promised to lead the fight against Trump and change the DNC’s cul­ture to make it a more grass­roots op­er­a­tion.

Perez, the son of Do­mini­can im­mi­grantswhowas­con­sid­eredapo­ten­tial run­ning mate for Clin­ton, over­came a strong chal­lenge from El­li­son and pre­vailed on a 235-200 sec­ond-round vote. El­li­son, who is the first Mus­lim elected to the US Congress, was backed by lib­eral leader US Se­na­tor Bernie San­ders of Ver­mont. The show­down between can­di­dates backed by the es­tab­lish­ment and pro­gres­sive wings of the party echoed the bit­ter 2016 pri­mary between Clin­ton and San­ders, a rift Democrats will try to put be­hind them as they turn their fo­cus to fight­ing Trump.

T ho s e d iv i sion s p e r si s t e d through the months-long race for chair, as many in the party’s lib­eral wing were sus­pi­cious of Perez’s ties to the es­tab­lish­ment and some Democrats raised ques­tions about pos­si­ble anti-Semitism in El­li­son’s past.

Some El­li­son sup­port­ers chanted “Not big money, party for the peo­ple” af­ter the re­sult was an­nounced. But both Perez and El li­son moved quickly to bring the ri­val fac­tions to­gether. At Perez’s urg­ing, the DNC sus­pended the rules af­ter the vote and ap­pointed El­li­son the deputy chair­man of the party. “I am ask­ing you to give every­thing you’ve got to sup­port Chair­man Perez,” El­li­son told DNC mem­bers af­ter the vote. “We don’t have the lux­ury, folks, to walk out of this room di­vided.” Perez said the party would come to­gether. “We are one family, and I know we will leave here united to­day,” Perez said. “A united Demo­cratic Party is not only our best hope, it is Don­ald Trump’s night­mare.”

Tom Perez

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