Tom Perez Likely to Enter the Fray for DNC Chairman

Politics1 is reporting that outgoing Secretary of Labor Tom Perez will enter the race for chairman of the Democratic National Committee:

No other news organization has confirmed this as of this writing.  If this reporting is accurate, Perez would presumably have to resign from his cabinet position in the immediate future so he can begin the process of campaigning for the DNC job.

Politico reported earlier today that Perez had stepped up his outreach to voting members of the DNC in recent days, though their story notes he was still considering a possible run for governor in Maryland in 2018 as well. Perez is “expected to hold a call with DNC members this week to discuss his intentions.”

Keith Ellison is seen as the frontrunner in the race now because of the number of endorsements he has racked up and the very public campaigning he has been doing for the job since the election last month.  The other candidates in the race as of this writing are New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Ray Buckley and South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison. Perez could potentially be Ellison’s biggest challenger, given his proximity to President Obama and the fact that he was considered as a possible running mate for Hillary Clinton this past election, although the potential downside to his candidacy is the risk of the DNC chairman race becoming a revisited proxy war for the Clinton-Sanders 2016 primary battle.  Politico also noted that NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue is still considering entering the race as well.

The schedule for those campaigning for chairman and vice-chairman positions has stepped up recently, following recent events organized by Young Democrats of America in Memphis and the Ohio Democratic Party in Columbus where the candidates could speak and make their arguments.   The campaigning will step up in the new year, when the DNC has scheduled four regional forums across the country for the candidates to make their case to Democrats ahead of the party’s winter meeting in Atlanta where the new chairman and vice-chairs will be chosen, scheduled for the end of February.

UPDATE: The New York Times is reporting Perez has told three senior Democrats that he intends to run for DNC chairman.

AFL-CIO Endorses Keith Ellison in DNC Chairman Race

The AFL-CIO released a statement this morning endorsing Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) to be the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee. The key part of the statement:

“Representative Ellison meets the high standard working people expect from leaders of our political parties,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “He is a proven leader who will focus on year-round grassroots organizing to deliver for working families across America. Under his leadership, the Democratic Party will embody the values that our members stand for every day.”

UPDATE: NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald points out a key caveat to the AFL-CIO endorsement:

The endorsement comes with an asterisk, critics note, as Ellison’s name was the only one on the AFL-CIO endorsement ballot. Trumka gave voters just three options: Support Ellison, make no endorsement, or abstain.

Harold Schaitberger, the president of the firefighters’ union, blasted the endorsement in a letter to Trumka, calling it a “contemptible…attempt at a coronation.” Schaitberger, whose union less progressive than others, added that the outcome “will not be the ‘unified endorsement’ that you hope to proclaim.”

The other thing to keep in mind is the possibility that the outgoing Secretary of Labor Tom Perez might decide to throw his hat in the ring for DNC chairman, though there are also rumors he is considering a run for the Maryland governor’s race in 2018.

Obama-Sanders Split Exposed in DNC Chairman Race

The New York Times has a good writeup on the behind-the-scenes dynamics happening in the race to lead the Democratic National Committee. Officially, the Obama administration is staying neutral in the race, but the White House is quietly looking for an alternative to Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who has accumulated the most endorsements so far in the race. At issue, according to the report: “Elevating Mr. Ellison would amount to handing the party to Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Mrs. Clinton’s primary race opponent, and his liberal followers.”

The concerns with Ellison are his inability to do the DNC job full-time as a sitting member of the House of Representatives, as well as his previous criticism of Obama and his previous praise of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. (Aides had agreed to make Ellison available for an interview to the NYT for this story until they were told he would be asked about Farrakhan.)

Former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm and Labor Secretary Tom Perez are said to be viewed favorably as candidates by the administration. Granholm had already publicly taken herself out of the running several days ago, but it’s not clear if the administration has lobbied or spoken with her since those comments. Perez’s post-administration plans are not yet known. He may throw his hat in the ring for the DNC chairmanship or he may bide his time and run for governor of Maryland in 2018.

UPDATE: I should note that while Ellison is the presumptive frontrunner in the race right now because of the number of endorsements he has picked up and the political muscle behind them (Chuck Schumer, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, etc.), those endorsements won’t mean anything when it comes down to the actual vote. According to NBC News, “The election won’t be held until late February during a meeting in Atlanta, and the only votes that matter are those of the several hundred members of the Democratic National Committee.”

Potential DNC Chairman Candidates Withdraw from the Race

According to NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald, Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), former Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-Md.) have withdrawn from consideration for the DNC chairman election.

Two names from the Obama administration have also surfaced: Vice President Joe Biden (who, according to a spokesman, declined interest in the position) and outgoing Labor Secretary Tom Perez. Keep in mind Perez was considered as a potential running mate by Hillary Clinton earlier this year, and NBC News also points out that he may opt to bide his time and run for governor of Maryland in 2018 against incumbent Republican Larry Hogan.

As of this morning, the candidates who are in the race or have expressed interest are:

  • NH Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley
  • Former Gov. Howard Dean (D-Vt.)
  • Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.)
  • SC Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison
  • NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue