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The Milton Measure

Tom Perez Wins DNC Chairman, Keith Ellison is Runner-Up

by on Thursday, March 9th, 2017

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) elected Tom Perez as their Chairman by a 235-200 vote on February 25th, according to a February 2017 CNN article. Perez’s job as the de facto leader of the Democrats will be to create a plan for the Democratic Party and to unify them moving forward. This job is especially important for a party which does not have control over the House, the Senate, nor the Presidency, and that has lost “870 legislators and leaders at the state and federal levels” since 2008, according to a November 2016 Washington Post article. Tom Perez will also have his work cut out for him in uniting what many believe to be a very divided party.

Perez, Obama’s Labor Secretary from 2013 to 2017, was the favorite among establishment Democrats, having garnered support from the likes of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Keith Ellison, the runner-up, was endorsed by anti-establishment figures including Senator Bernie Sanders. A February 2017 New York Times article reports that, upon losing, many of Ellison’s supporters shouted “Party for the people, not big money!” However, according to the same article, as soon as Perez was able to, he moved for Ellison to be voted in as deputy chair.

Deputy chair is described by a February 2017 Washington Post article as being a mostly “symbolic” role for the far-left Ellison. While many of Ellison’s supporters were disappointed with the nomination of the more moderate Perez, Ellison told the crowd on election night: “We don’t have the luxury to walk out of this room divided.” Just like when Bernie Sanders lost in the Democratic primary to Hillary Clinton, this election showed the far left failing to gain a place within its own party, yet again.

The race for Chairman was very tight, being the first time since 1985 that the Chairman of the DNC has been contested, according to the Washington Post. The race was so close that there was a second round of voting because Perez did not garner enough votes the first time. There was also last minute controversy when a member of Ellison’s camp sent out a text to a few voters falsely saying that Mayor Buttigieg, who withdrew from the race before the first round of voting, had endorsed Ellison, according to The New York Times. The New York Times further reported that one of Ellison’s aides followed up this message with a correction, but the slip still might have cost Ellison some votes.

Perez, the son of Dominican immigrants, is the first Latino Chairman of the DNC, according to US News. The article also states that, after leading Maryland’s labor department and serving as the assistant attorney general for civil rights, Perez was chosen by Obama as his Labor Secretary in 2013 until 2017. During his time as Labor Secretary, as a January 2017 Mother Jones article states, Perez “fired up that agency,” while leading 17,000 people and running a budget of billions of dollars. It was through this job that he created ties with Obama and Clinton supporters, which carried over to the support that he received in the election.

Ellison, a Representative from Minnesota and the first Muslim elected to Congress, was the early favorite to win. However, the The Washington Post dubbed him a “bold” and “controversial” candidate. According to a December 2016 CNN article, Ellison had relations with a prominent anti-Semite, from whom he has spent years trying to distance. When he entered the race, Ellison was seen as the grassroots candidate who would reform the Democratic Party to become farther left. Although, as the campaign progressed, these old controversies were brought up again and again, with many like The Washington Post and Democracy Now calling this a “smear campaign.”

While the standard job for the DNC Chairman is to fundraise, both Perez and Ellison, representing opposite ends of a highly polarized party, will have to work together to unite the Democrats. They will also need to help the Democratic Party figure out its image, creating either a more moderate, establishment party or a more left wing, anti-establishment party. However, as a February 2017 Vox article points out, the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman of the DNC do not decide the political leanings of the entire party, meaning that Perez and Ellison will not have to solve the image problem alone. The Democratic Party as a whole will have to figure out its identity crisis in time for the next elections, or risk losing even more seats in Congress.


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Posted by on Mar 9 2017. Filed under More News, News, Recent News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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