ATLANTA (CNN) — 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.
He is the first Latino to hold the post.
Former President Barack Obama congratulated his former labor secretary, Tom Perez, for clinching the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee on Saturday and for selecting his rival for the job, Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, as his deputy.
“I’m proud of all the candidates who ran and who make this great party what it is,” Obama said in a statement. “What unites our party is a belief in opportunity — the idea that however you started out, whatever you look like, or whomever you love, America is the place where you can make it if you try.”
Obama touted what he said was the party’s track record of expanding the economy, creating new jobs, keeping Americans safe through “tough, smart” foreign policy, and expanding the right to quality, affordable health insurance.
“That’s a legacy the Democratic Party will always carry forward,” Obama said. “I know that Tom Perez will unite us under that banner of opportunity and lay the groundwork for a new generation of Democratic leadership for this big, bold, inclusive, dynamic America we love so much.”
President Donald Trump tweeted a congratulatory note to former Labor Secretary Tom Perez for winning the race for chair of the Democratic National Committee on Saturday.”Congratulations to Thomas Perez, who has just been named Chairman of the DNC,” the President wrote. “I could not be happier for him, or for the Republican Party!”