Tom Perez is the current chair of the Democratic National Committee and a vocal member of the Democratic Party. Perez was born in Buffalo, New York to first generation Dominican immigrants. He attended Brown University where he received his B.A. and then attended Harvard Law and the Kennedy School of Government. Perez then worked as a law clerk in Colorado for the District Court before becoming a federal prosecutor with the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division. Perez ultimately worked with Attorney General Janet Reno as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. At the end of the Clinton Administration, Perez served as the Director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services.
In 2002, Perez was elected to the Montgomery County Council in Maryland. After serving in that position for four years, he then ran for Maryland Attorney General in 2006. A lawsuit was filed alleging that Perez was not eligible to run for Attorney General as he had not practiced law in the state for 10 years. Subsequently, the Maryland Court of Appeals rejected Perez's candidacy. It wasn't all bad, however, as new Governor, Martin O'Malley, then chose Perez to head the Maryland Department of Labor.
In 2009, President Obama nominated Perez to serve as Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. During this post, Perez worked on LGBT rights and anti-discrimination laws, helped implement the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2009, and worked to protect students from discrimination by defending Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause.
Perez also investigated the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida, resulting in the head of the Florida Police Department's removal from office.
In 2013, Perez was nominated to be Secretary of Labor by President Obama, a position he held until the end of the Obama administration.
In The Know
Perez was a big Hillary supporter during the 2016 election but has developed a close relationship with Bernie Sanders since the inauguration.
Perez has had the challenging task of trying to re-stabilize the Democratic National Committee in the wake of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz's forced departure and an election that divided democrats across the country. Perez has recently appointed new hires, working specifically to strengthen local grassroots movements and create a response team to the populism that won over Trump voters.
Perez has been traveling the country, often in the company of Bernie Sanders, making noise with his profanity which he's used to illustrate his passion.
Despite efforts to reunify the Democratic party, Perez made headlines when he seemingly spoke out against Democratic nominee for Mayor of Omaha, Heath Mello. Mello is anti-abortion, prompting some Democrats to speak out against him despite his endorsement by Bernie Sanders. Perez, when asked, said all Democrat's should support a women's right to choose. Some Dems, like Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio, say Perez's words hurt the party and we have to be open to nominees who may have different viewpoints.
As if we need to bring more Cold War era nonsense back, Perez is often accused by the far right of being a communist. Guess who thinks that's legitimate? No one. Perez is fluent in Spanish and often addresses his audiences in both English and Spanish.