Former Labor Secretary Tom Perez has been elected to lead the Democratic National Committee, beating out Minnesota Congressmember Keith Ellison in a contentious second-round vote that is seen as determining the future of the Democratic Party. Congressmember Ellison is the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the first Muslim elected to Congress. He was widely backed by supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders and the Democratic Party’s more progressive wing; labor unions, including the AFL-CIO and the heads of the American Federation of Teachers, National Nurses United and AFSCME; and even Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York. Perez was backed by the party’s establishment, including President Obama. He becomes the first Latino head of the Democratic Party. After Saturday’s contentious vote—which marked the first time in more than 30 years that the outcome was not known ahead of balloting—Ellison’s supporters erupted in protest, chanting “Party for the people, not big money.” Perez quickly appointed Ellison deputy party chair, a new position. Standing together, they both urged party unity. This is Perez.
Tom Perez: “Where do we go from here? Because right now we have to face the facts. We are suffering from a crisis of confidence, a crisis of relevance. We need a chair who can not only take the fight to Donald Trump, make sure that we talk about our positive message of inclusion and opportunity, and talk to that big tent of the Democratic Party. We also need a chair who can lead turnaround and change the culture of the Democratic Party and the DNC.”
Some critics say Saturday’s vote represents the Democratic Party’s failure to learn from its left-leaning base and from the party’s defeat in the November election. Current Affairs editor Nathan Robinson wrote, “At this point, one has to conclude that the national Democratic Party has a death wish.” We’ll have more on the DNC vote later in the broadcast.