On Saturday the Democratic National Committee (DNC) elected former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez to become its new Chairman, effectively making him the head of the Democratic Party.
News of Perez’s victory was not received well by progressives within the Democratic Party, many of whom supported Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) in the contest to replace interim Chair Donna Brazile.
Ellison rose to prominence among progressives for his early and unwavering support of Bernie Sanders in last year’s Democratic primary and his work with the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which he co-chairs with Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ). Perez, on the other hand, is seen as an establishment Democrat who received much of his support from the likes of former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Many Democrats voiced frustration with Perez being chosen over Ellison and expressed concern that it might deepen the rift in the party that arose in the heated Democratic presidential primary between Sanders and Clinton.
— Caitlin Johnstone (@caitoz) February 26, 2017
“This incredibly disappointing result is another missed opportunity for a Democratic Party desperately trying to regain relevance and proves, once again, how out of touch party insiders are with the grassroots movement currently in the streets, on the phone, and at town halls nationwide,” Jim Dean told Common Dreams.
Dean is the Chairmen of Democracy for America, which is a “member-driven, people-powered political action committee” founded by Dean’s brother, former Vermont governor and Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean, who also served as DNC Chair from 2005 to 2009.
Jim Dean’s sentiment was echoed by others from the progressive and left wings of the Democratic Party.
“The DNC is out of touch with the American public and their needs. Democratic leaders were at a crossroads and today they chose to continue the failed Clinton strategy of prioritizing wealthy donors over the activist base,” said Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth Action.
Friends of the Earth Action had supported Ellison in the race for the DNC Chair.
Democrats weren’t the only ones predicating that Perez becoming Chair of the DNC might intensify tensions within the party.
President Donald Trump took a swipe at the Perez’s victory in a tweet he sent out Saturday evening.
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
Perez fired back at Trump a few minutes later.
— Tom Perez (@TomPerez) February 25, 2017
Responses to Perez’s tweet suggest that the party might not be nearly as united as he hopes, despite his naming Ellison as “Deputy Chair” of the DNC and Ellison’s plea for his supporters to back Perez.
@45Resistance unite behind what? Time Warner and George Clooney? Agreed-we need to resist, but DNC is not listening, again. No message.
— Cara Simone (@CaraMSimone) February 25, 2017
— Rain Duran (@RainDuran) February 26, 2017
— RIP Dems & DNC???? (@GeeOhPees2) February 25, 2017
— Kyle Kinnear (@kylerkinnear) February 26, 2017
— JCoyote (@JodyCoyote12) February 26, 2017
— CelesteHolmes (@Dallas4Bernie) February 25, 2017
— RightandWrongJournal (@FactChek) February 26, 2017
There were numerous responses in support of Perez and calling for party unity as well, but the number of negative responses could suggest trouble for Democrats.
[Featured image by Pete Marovich/Getty Images]