Tom Perez is the new Democratic National Committee chairperson. On Feb. 25, 2017, he was elected by a narrow margin, according to NBC News. Perez replaces the interim chair, Donna Brazile.
During the four months of the election process, there was strong support for several candidates. In November 2016, the Turn Out PAC sent out a request seeking Democrats’ opinions about their choice between, Howard Dean, former Vermont governor; Representative Keith Ellison, D-Minn.; Jaime Harrison, S.C. Democratic Party chairman; or Perez, former U.S. secretary of labor. There were three others, who were not listed by the PAC.
As the time came closer to the election, two candidates were the topic of multiple daily email blasts. Progressive groups favored Ellison, and Perez seemed to be the choice of moderate Democrats. On Feb. 23, Harrison withdrew his candidacy and threw his support toward Perez. He told NBC:
With so much at stake, our next Chair will lead the fight of a generation. We must all fight side by side. I’m standing by Tom Perez’s side, and I hope you will join me in doing the same.
DNC Elects a Chairperson
The final two votes were cast during the 2017 Winter DNC Meeting, in Atlanta. Ga. On Feb. 23, the DNC voting bloc of 447, cast their votes to elect the chair and other board members. Perez and Ellison were the only two who remained on the ticket after Friday’s vote. During the second vote, the next day, Perez secured 235 of the votes, and 200 were cast for Ellison, who was appointed deputy chair.
Ellison adamantly stated the party could not walk away from the results of the vote without understanding that the DNC needs to unite. He told them:
We don’t have the luxury, folks, to walk out of this room divided. I just want to say to you that it’s my honor to serve this party under Chairman Perez.
Democrats in for Fight for America’s Future
Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton faced off during the primaries with vigor. Clinton ultimately won the nomination and the Democrats strove to bring the party back together. Sanders endorsed Clinton and pushed his followers to do the same.
In November 2016, the party experienced a tremendous setback when their candidate lost the election to Donald Trump. The loss was even more devastating when it was learned that Clinton won the popular vote by almost three million.
After the fragmentation within the DNC and the departure of ex-chairperson Debra Wassermann, Perez is taking on a large task. He was clear about his feelings, that it is time for the DNC to become a team. Prior to his election, Perez told those present at the Winter meeting:
If elected, I will work with Jaime and others who are running for chair to bring our party together because it will take every one of us to unite a party that is suffering from a crisis of confidence and relevance.
Brazile has been the interim chair since last summer. She told Democrats that it was an honor to serve the DNC and added that the privilege would be something she would always cherish. Now is “the time for the leadership to take the reins and lead the party forward,” Brazile explained in an email.
In a further appeal, she told recipients of the email that regaining control of Congress and electing a Democratic president would take a team working toward the same goals. It is hopeful that the progressive and the conservative arms of the party can come together as a cohesive group to this end.
By Cathy Milne
NBC News: DNC Race: Tom Perez Becomes DNC Chair in Close Election Victory
NBC News: DNC Race: Jaime Harrison Drops Out, Endorses Tom Perez for Chair
Politico: DNC chair candidates agree to agree
NPR: WATCH LIVE: Former Obama Labor Secretary Perez Wins DNC Chairmanship
Image Courtesy of Gage Skidmore’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License