By: Zack Duvall
The Democrat Party elected former U.S. labor Secretary in the Obama administration, Tom Perez, as their party’s national chairman Saturday in a close vote held in Atlanta.
Perez’s election to the post comes after a contentious debate within the Democrat party itself about the direction of the party going forward in light of the recent Nov. 8 elections that saw the Democrats lose all three houses of government.
Perez, a favorite among many establishment Democrats, beat out U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota by a vote of 235-200. After the announcement of results, and in a move to smooth over differences with the “progressive” wing of the party Ellison was supported by, Perez made Ellison his deputy national chairman.
“We are suffering from a crisis of confidence, a crisis of relevance.” Perez told DNC members and event attendees. Referring to what many say is a major potential rift and crossroads for the party.
That rift and crossroads being the fight to either take the party further left as some in the party, such as Rep. Ellison himself and Bernie Sanders who supported Ellison in his bid for the DNC chairman position, want to see happen or to pull the party to the more ‘establishment’ leaning wing of the party that Perez is generally thought to represent and is supported by.
Supporters of Ellison and the more radical left wing of the party, in a show of discontent with the results, were heard chanting “not big money, party for the people” from the crowd. In reference to Perez’s numerous alleged ties to big money establishment donors many within the progressive base say have worked to undermine the progressive message and movement.
Rep. Ellison attempted to calm the crowd and send a message of unity to his supporters and those who question and oppose the Perez pick
“I am asking you to give everything you’ve got to support chairman Perez. We don’t have the luxury, folks, to walk out of this room divided.” Ellison told supporters and attendees after the vote. Perez attempted to build on that message by trying to unite the party around its fight against President Trump and the Republicans.
“We are one family, and I know that we will leave here united today. A united Democratic Party is not only our best hope, it is Donald Trump’s nightmare.”
President Trump in apparent rebuttal to that statement took to Twitter and social media to comment on the news of Perez’s win. .
“I could not be happier for him, or the Republican Party,” The President posted Saturday evening.
But the Perez pick by Democrats is not just about the ideology that he party will follow, but may also change the way the party operates as a whole.
During his speech after the vote, said that his top priority was to “lead the fight against [President] Donald Trump” and to change the culture within the DNC and Democrat party to make it more “grassroots.”
Perez also says that he plans on not only to focus on the Presidential elections, but potentially all of the elections with a Democrat candidate, including possibly even school board candidates. Perez said to accomplish this Democrats would “organize. Organize. Organize.” A major strategy the Democrats plan to implement going forward and has been seen being implemented at various GOP town halls disrupted by what are thought to be left-leaning grassroots activist groups.
“We are at a turning point for our party and all Americans. By getting back to basics, we can turn the Democratic Party around, take the fight to Donald Trump, and win elections from school board to Senate.” Perez told DNC supporters and members.
However, with the historic losses that the Democrats took at the polls this past election cycle, many experts and political analysts say that the Party, and progressive movement, have a long way to go in order to regain control in the House and Senate, and an even longer road to regain the White House.