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News18 Explainer: Who is Tom Perez, New Chairman of the Democratic Party?

The Democratic Party elected Tom Perez chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He is the first Latino to lead the party, which is demoralized and divided by an election campaign that resulted in Donald Trump becoming President of the United States despite losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton.

Tushar Dhara | News18.com

Updated:February 27, 2017, 2:04 PM IST
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News18 Explainer: Who is Tom Perez, New Chairman of the Democratic Party?
Former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, a candidate for Democratic National Committee Chairman, looks at his notes during a Democratic National Committee forum in Baltimore, Maryland (Reuters)
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The Democratic Party elected Tom Perez chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He is the first Latino to lead the party, which is demoralized and divided by an election campaign that resulted in Donald Trump becoming President of the United States despite losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton.

But just who is Tom Perez? News18 has put together an explainer.

Tom Perez was the Labour Secretary under President Barack Obama and also made the shortlist of vice-presidential candidates for Hillary Clinton last year.

What does the Chair of the Democratic National Committee do?

The Chair is the overall head of the Party and has to be a mediator, negotiator, fundraiser and leader of the opposition. Perez’s immediate job will be to prepare for the mid-term elections in 2018 and the races in the run up to them. Also, he will have to try and heal the rift between the various factions of the Democratic Party that the bitter primaries and the loss to Donald Trump exacerbated.

Also Read: Democrats Elect Tom Perez as New Chairman to Lead Party Against Donald Trump, Republicans

How many votes did Perez win by?

Perez defeated his main opponent Keith Ellison 235-200 votes among the DNC’s 435 members who cast ballots.

Will his win unite the Democratic Party?

That remains to be seen. Tom Perez is perceived by the Party’s supporters as an establishment candidate backed by the Clintons while his opponent, Keith Ellison, was seen as aligned with the progressive wing of the party associated with Bernie Sanders. In a way, these are the same issues that plagued the Democratic primaries, where Clinton was seen as the establishment candidate and Sanders as the insurgent populist.

What happens now?

Tom Perez moved quickly to reach out to his defeated opponent by making Ellison the deputy chair of the DNC. He also vowed to be Donald Trump’s “worst nightmare” in a tweet. His job will be to galvanize the Democratic Party after years of losses at the local and state levels and lead a united front against President Trump and the Republican Party.

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| Edited by: Ananya Chakraborty
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