Every election, irrespective of who wins or loses, has its ramifications. While US citizens are battling what's now come to be defined as Donald Trump-effect post the Republican candidate's win over Hillary Clinton in November last year, the Democratic Party is looking to regain lost ground and reconnect with grassroots workers and shake the image of a party of Washington insiders, party elites and donors.
The fight between Keith Ellison and Tom Perez for the new Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair, thus, was a crucial one. It is set to bring the biggest shake-up within the party, as the results decided who will control the party — the ground workers (represented by Ellison and supported by Bernie Sanders) or the mainstream party and thus the elite of New York (represented by Perez, a Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama favourite).
Ellison lost to Perez in a two-round balloting, where Perez received 235 of the total 435 votes on Sunday, NYTimes.com said.
The results have left many democrats divided, with some claiming that the party has once again missed the chance to bring a change to end its losing streak, and represent the people in a "meaningful way". However, Perez supporters (including some progressives) feel that the former labour secretary is the right person to bring the change.
Who is Tom Perez?
Perez was born in Buffalo, New York to immigrants from the Dominican Republic. A graduate from Brown University, Harvard Law School and John F Kennedy School of Government, Perez started his career as a lawyer and went on to work in the Justice Department between 1989 to 1995. He worked with the then-senator Ted Kennedy till 1998 and then went on to serve in Department of Health and Human Services under the the Bill Clinton administration.
Perez also taught at University of Maryland School of Law and worked in Maryland politics before former President Barack Obama named him his assistant attorney general for civil rights in 2009. He also served as secretary of labour in Obama’s second term.
Is Perez suitable for the job?
Perez's experience in politics is thin, writes Vox.com. "He served on the Montgomery county council, and tried running for attorney general of Maryland but had his candidacy blocked due to residency issues. Still, he developed a reputation as a party rising star, with his work in the executive branch being widely praised by progressive activist groups."
And this is what makes Perez an interesting choice over Ellison. Even though the former secretary of labour held progressive views, he maintained close ties to the party mainstream. In fact, Perez supported Hillary Clinton during the 2016 primaries which saw Sanders lose to Clinton, Vox.com said.
So, will Perez emerge as a people's representative as the Democratic Party decides its moves against the Trump Administration and prepares for the next election, or will he be another elite manning the Democratic party?
The answer to the question remains unclear, but Ellison, who lost the race to the DNC chair has requested his followers and the progressive wing of the party, to support Perez.
“If they trust me, they need to come on and trust Tom Perez as well,” he said, adding: “The very fate of our nation, I believe, is in the balance,” the Guardian reported.
'Rigged', says Trump on Perez's election
But then again, there are not only democrats who seem doubtful of Perez's election as the new chariman of the Democratic Party. US President Donald Trump took to Twitter to congratulate Perez for his win in the cynicism that has come to define the US president's personality. He said:
Congratulations to Thomas Perez, who has just been named Chairman of the DNC. I could not be happier for him, or for the Republican Party!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2017
Trump then went on to claim that the election for the DNC chairman was rigged, just like he claimed that the election in several of the US states was rigged:
The race for DNC Chairman was, of course, totally "rigged." Bernie's guy, like Bernie himself, never had a chance. Clinton demanded Perez! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 26, 2017
Updated Date: Feb 27, 2017 16:59 PM