Politics

Democrats Elect Former Obama Official, First Latino As Party Leader

Democrats’ bitter battle to replace their scandal-ridden former chairman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, came to a final end today after national party leaders selected Tom Perez, former Secretary of Labor under Obama, to lead the beleaguered party.

Perez became the first Latino leader of the party after defeating the only Muslim member of Congress, uber-liberal Rep. Keith Ellison.

Here’s more from WashPo

Former Labor Secretary Tom Perez was elected as the first Latino chair of the Democratic National Committee on Saturday, defeating Rep. Keith Ellison at a contentious party meeting in Atlanta.

“With hard work and a hell of a lot of organizing, we will turn this party around,” Perez said before he had locked up enough votes to win 235 to 200 votes on a second ballot.

As Perez’s victory was announced, nine Ellison supporters chanted “power of the people, not big money,” then stormed out of the room.

“Someday they’re going to study this era of American history,” Perez said after his victory. They’re going to ask the question of all of us: Where were you in 2017, when we had the worst president in the history of the United States? We will be able to say that the Democratic Party led the resistance, and made sure this was a one-term president.”

Onstage, Perez gave Ellison the symbolic role of deputy chair, and the Minnesota congressman gave a short speech asking his supporters to stay with the party and avoid recriminations. “We don’t have the luxury to walk out of this room divided,” said Ellison.

Nonetheless, Ellison’s defeat was a blow to the party’s liberal wing, personified by activists, labor leaders, and organizers who had come to Atlanta to cheer him on. Supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who had lobbied hard for Ellison, worried that the party was alienating the growing “resistance” that has organized against President Donald Trump.

“If you polled Democrats outside of this room, Keith would win,” said Jeff Weaver, “Keith’s support is from the people on the street.”

The vote itself was tense. On Friday night, Democrats gathered at a downtown Westin to meet, drink, and lobby for votes, and the Ellison campaign — along with allies of South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a third candidate — battled rumors that Perez might have locked up the needed votes.

But by Saturday morning, it was clear that the race was up for grabs. Buttigieg used his nomination speech to quit the race, endorsing no candidate. As the 439 present DNC members cast their votes — eight eligible members did not attend — several DNC members got a text from the Ellison camp, saying the congressman was “grateful to have the support of Mayor Buttigieg.”

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