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Former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who was just elected chair of the DNC.

'Incredibly Disappointing': Democrats Choose Tom Perez to Head Party

DNC 'chose to continue the failed Clinton strategy of prioritizing wealthy donors over the activist base'

Andrea Germanos

Democrats on Saturday chose Tom Perez to lead the party, sparking criticism from progressive organizations who say picking the former labor secretary over the other front-runner, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), was a missed opportunity for the party.

Perez's win was secured in a second round of voting by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) gathered in Atlanta, getting 235 votes to Ellison's 200.

It marks the end of a race many observers saw as a choice between the establishment and the progressive wing of the party. Ellison had the backing of lawmakers like Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and groups including National Nurses United and the Communications Workers of America; Perez was backed by "many from former President Obama's political orbit," as ABC News writes, and "is viewed—with good reason—as a reliable functionary and trustworthy loyalist by those who have controlled the party and run it into the ground," journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote this week. 

Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth Action, which supported Ellison, said the outcome showed "[t]he 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."

"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," added Jim Dean, chair of Democracy for America.

"Nonetheless, the Resistance will persist in showing progressive leaders how to unrelentingly take on [President Donald] Trump, with or without the leadership of the Democratic National Committee," Dean said.

Ellison, whom Perez chose as deputy, said following the results, "We don't have the luxury folks to walk out of this room divided." He added in a statement: "We must be united—because we live in times when the judiciary is under attack, when the press is under attack, and hate groups are desecreating Jewish cemetaries and defacing mosques."

Ahead of the vote for chair, the DNC's meeting got off to what one political observer described as a "very, very bad start." The Huffington Post reports:

Democratic National Committee members on Saturday voted down a resolution that would have reinstated former President Barack Obama’s ban on corporate political action committee donations to the party.

Resolution 33, introduced by DNC Vice Chair Christine Pelosi, would also have forbidden “registered, federal corporate lobbyists” from serving as “DNC chair-appointed, at-large members.”

A majority of the 442 eligible DNC members rejected the resolution after roughly a dozen members rose to speak for and against it.

Voting down that resolution coupled with choosing Perez makes it "[p]retty clear where the official party organ stands on the divide," tweeted Huffington Post reporter Zach Carter.


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