After an impassioned contest featuring as many as eight candidates as late as last week, the Democratic National Committee elected former Obama Labor Secretary Tom Perez its chairman Saturday afternoon in Atlanta.
Perez bested Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison by a vote of 235–200 in a race which required a second ballot before turning out a winner to lead the party, the first Latino to do so.
An establishment favorite, Perez had earned endorsements from former President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and Vice President Joe Biden. Mr. Ellison had been endorsed by Democratic Sens. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Chuck Schumer (N.Y.).
Although Perez led in the first round of voting, he failed to earn the required number of votes, but won a majority in the second round after several candidates vying for the chairmanship dropped their bid.
Vowing to resurrect a party which has suffered devastating losses in three of the last four election cycles, Perez named rival Ellison as deputy DNC chair and called on Democrats to unite to fight “the worst president in the history of the United States.”
“We are all in this together. I am confident when we lead with our values and we lead with our actions, we succeed,” he said.
“We are suffering from a crisis of confidence, a crisis of relevance.”
Mr. Perez takes the reins of a party facing internal crisis and external division. He replaces acting chair Donna Brazile, who replaced Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.
Wasserman-Schultz was forced to resign along with several top DNC officials last summer after it was revealed the DNC leadership had conspired to favor 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton over Vermont’s Bernie Sanders during the primaries.
Tasked with healing internal strife and re-energizing a depressed base, Perez now confronts a deeply-divided party rocked by massive losses nationwide. The party suffered the loss of over 1,000 political offices during the two-term presidency of Barack Obama.
[Reuters] [AP] [Photo courtesy AP via Politico]