Tom Perez plans bid for DNC chair, as Dems debate a new face

Current Labor Secretary Tom Perez plans to announce a bid to chair the Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair, party sources told the Associated Press. Mr. Perez would be challenging Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, a front-runner for the position since shortly after the Nov. 8 election, as the Democrats try to recast their message for post-election politics.

As a Dominican-American raised in Rust Belt Buffalo, N.Y., Perez could be seen as representing diversity and working-class interests within the Democratic Party. But he may also be perceived as the party establishment, and many both within and outside the party have taken Hillary Clinton’s loss in the presidential election as a cue that its time to shake things up.

“The Democratic Party needs some stars,” John Weingart, the director of Rutgers University’s Center on the American Governor in New Jersey, told The Christian Science Monitor in early December, “some younger faces to advance their issues and to be potential national candidates in 2020 and beyond.”

For fans of Representative Ellison, Perez may lack what it takes to be that star. The Labor Secretary “is another suit,” environmental activist and Ellison supporter Jane Fleming Kleeb told The Washington Post, “and we don’t need another suit running the party. We need someone from middle America who knows how to organize and respects the grass roots.”

Ellison was an early favorite backed by newly elected Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D) of N.Y., as well as some progressives, such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) of Vermont. But Perez’s entrance into the race may intensify tensions between establishment and more liberal Democrats, which the presidential primaries put in the spotlight. READ MORE.