By Cait Flynn
Former Labor Secretary Tom Perez was elected the new chair of the Democratic National Committee in an unusually narrow race, The Washington Post reported.
Perez, who served under former President Barack Obama, was an establishment favorite to win, garnering the support of former former Vice President Joe Biden and former Attorney General Eric Holder, according to The Washington Post.
Perez won after two rounds of voting, earning 213.5 in the first round, just one vote shy of the 214.5 votes needed to win. After the second round, Perez won 235 votes and Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota won 200, The New York Times reported.
According to the same source, Ellison, who was endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, is the first Muslim to serve in the U.S. Congress and represents a more progressive sect of the Democratic Party.
After Perez’s nomination, the chant “Party of the people, not big money” rang out among Ellison supporters in protest, according to The New York Times.
Protests were so loud that outgoing Deputy Chair R. T. Ryback had to quiet the crowd for Perez to announce he would name Ellison deputy chair. The two have remained cordial with each other throughout the race in order to avoid repeating the vitriol felt during the 2016 primary between Hillary Clinton and Sanders, The New York Times reported.
“We don’t have the luxury to walk out of this room divided,” Ellison said after being named deputy chair, according to The New York Times.
The same source reported that the Democratic Party has many key elections coming up, including the gubernatorial race in New Jersey and 2018 midterm elections.
Perez is the first Latino elected to the position. The son of Dominican immigrants, Perez has held various state and federal jobs throughout his career rising to labor secretary under the Obama administration, The New York Times reported.
Perez graduated from Harvard Law School and served as assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, according to his official website.
“When we have these conversations, sometimes spirited, sometimes difficult, that’s not a sign of weakness, that’s a sign of strength as a party, and that’s what we’re going to keep doing,” Perez said in his acceptance speech delivered partially in Spanish, according to The New York Times.