Democrats elect Tom Perez to lead party

Former labor secretary picked as DNC chair
Posted at 12:32 PM, Feb 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-25 16:30:59-05

The Democratic National Committee elected Tom Perez as its new chairman Saturday, voting for the former labor secretary over Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison in a 235-200 vote. Moments later, at Perez's request, Ellison was approved as his deputy chair.

Perez, who drew support from backers of Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama, argued that the party needs to focus on voting access and down-ballot battles.

Ellison's allies, who were aligned with Sen. Bernie Sanders' progressive wing, pitched him as the only candidate who could bridge the party's divisions.

Perez's victory came after the other candidates dropped out of the race. They include South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Idaho Democratic Party Executive Director Sally Boynton Brown, television analyst Jehmu Greene, Air Force veteran Sam Ronan and attorney Peter Peckarsky.

WATCH: Perez gives his candid thoughts on President Trump



Perez has sold himself as a turnaround artist, arguing that the party needs to focus on voting access and down-ballot battles.

"Tomorrow's race is all about helping people at scale," Perez told DNC members at a Friday night reception, referring to the need to replicate successful campaign strategies nationwide. "And when we build these strong parties, and when we build these strong partnerships, that's what we'll be able to do."

At the Westin Peachtree Plaza, Ellison rallied his troops with an evening reception where he declared the party would emerge from Saturday's contest united for a "greater and more important fight."

"Unity is critically important," Ellison said. "We have got to come out of this process together. We have got to come out of this process united."

"No one benefits from us fighting each other other than Trump and all those crazy right-wing governors," he added.