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.”
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.”