La­bor chief Perez joins mix of can­di­dates to head DNC

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY SETH MCLAUGHLIN

La­bor Sec­re­tary Thomas E. Perez an­nounced Thurs­day that he is run­ning for chair­man of the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee, adding an­other high-pro­file lib­eral to the mix of those seek­ing to re­build the party af­ter a se­ries of dis­ap­point­ing elec­tions.

Mr. Perez has close ties to Pres­i­dent Obama, hav­ing led the La­bor De­part­ment and served in the De­part­ment of Jus­tice be­fore that, and was thought to be a likely pick for at­tor­ney gen­eral if Hil­lary Clin­ton be­came pres­i­dent.

Don­ald Trump’s vic­tory dashed those hopes,

and Mr. Perez now says he can use his ex­pe­ri­ence in the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion to re­shape the Demo­cratic Party.

“Now more than ever, I be­lieve we need a full-time chair who can in­spire peo­ple, grow our party and speak to its broad tent,” Mr. Perez said in an op-ed post on Mic.com. “And we need a chair with the lead­er­ship and man­age­ment ex­pe­ri­ence to pro­tect the progress we’ve made and keep us mov­ing for­ward.”

Par­tic­u­larly af­ter a race in which Democrats said some of their vot­ers were dis­en­fran­chised by re­stric­tive laws, Mr. Perez’s ex­pe­ri­ence fight­ing those laws at the Jus­tice De­part­ment could give him an edge.

Be­fore his an­nounce­ment, the DNC race had cen­tered on Rep. Keith El­li­son of Min­nesota, who has won back­ing of pow­er­ful la­bor unions and lib­eral law­mak­ers on Capi­tol Hill — namely Sens. El­iz­a­beth War­ren of Mas­sachusetts and Bernard San­ders of Ver­mont, who said at a rally Wed­nes­day that the “sta­tus quo is not work­ing” and that Mr. El­li­son would bring “real change” to the DNC.

Mr. Perez, mean­while, de­fended the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, say­ing the pres­i­dent “in­her­ited a mess eight years ago, and un­der his lead­er­ship we’ve made tremen­dous progress putting peo­ple back to work.”

“Yet all across the coun­try, there are mil­lions of peo­ple still wait­ing for the ba­sic prom­ise of op­por­tu­nity to be ful­filled,” said Mr. Perez, a na­tive of Buf­falo, New York. “These Amer­i­cans de­serve a Demo­cratic Party that will fight for them. That’s why I’ve de­cided to run for chair of the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee.”

The White House has of­fered praise for Mr. Perez but in­di­cated this week that Mr. Obama would not be mak­ing an en­dorse­ment in the race.

New Hamp­shire Demo­cratic Party Chair­man Ray­mond Buck­ley and South Carolina Demo­cratic Chair­man Jaime Har­ri­son also are run­ning in the elec­tion, which DNC mem­bers will de­cide at their Fe­bru­ary win­ter meet­ing in At­lanta.

Mr. El­li­son, co-chair­man of the Con­gres­sional Pro­gres­sive Cau­cus, wel­comed Mr. Perez into the race. He said he is look­ing “for­ward to dis­cussing how Democrats can speak to all Amer­i­cans, har­ness the grass roots to turn out the vote, and strengthen our state and lo­cal par­ties.”

He also blasted out an email tout­ing the en­dorse­ments he has re­ceived from state party lead­ers, la­bor groups and mem­bers of Congress — in­di­cat­ing bat­tle lines in the con­test al­ready have been drawn.

The fo­cus on Mr. Perez and Mr. El­li­son could test ties be­tween two key con­stituen­cies — black and His­panic vot­ers — that have played piv­otal roles in de­liv­er­ing wins for Democrats.

“Tom Perez is the son of Do­mini­can im­mi­grants who came to this coun­try in search of a bet­ter life, and he has de­voted his ca­reer to fight for what’s right, ex­pand­ing op­por­tu­nity for all Amer­i­cans and en­sur­ing that all voices are heard within our demo­cratic process,” said Cris­to­bal J. Alex, pres­i­dent of the Latino Vic­tory Fund. “Tom Perez is the right per­son for the job and we are proud to sup­port him for DNC Chair.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Thomas E. Perez says he can use his ex­pe­ri­ence from key po­si­tions in the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion to re­shape the Demo­cratic Party af­ter elec­tion losses.

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