BY LAURA KING
TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump claimed on Feb. 26 that the race for Democratic National Committee chairman had been “rigged”—drawing a quick response from Tom Perez, who narrowly won the party’s leadership race.
Trump insinuated that Perez’s election as chairman on the second ballot at a party conference in Atlanta on Feb. 25 was because Hillary Clinton had backed Perez, a former labor secretary in the Obama administration who was seen as representing the party’s establishment forces.
Clinton did not make an endorsement. Perez’s main rival, Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., was backed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and the party’s more liberal wing.
“Bernie’s guy, like Bernie himself, never had a chance,” Trump posted on Twitter Sunday morning. “Clinton demanded Perez!”
Role for Ellison
Perez, appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union, said he and Ellison “got a good kick out of that,” adding: “Donald Trump, up in the morning tweeting about us.”
Sanders, appearing on the same show, said Trump “doesn’t have a point” about the Democratic committee vote.
Moments after Perez beat Ellison by 35 votes out of 435 cast, he named Ellison deputy chairman of the party.
Perez is the first Latino to lead the Democratic Party, and he faces the challenge of trying to rebuild a party that suffered devastating losses in the 2016 elections. Republicans now control not only the White House and Congress, but also 33 governorships and dozens of state legislatures.
A Russian reference
In his CNN interview, Perez sarcastically suggested that Trump should address questions about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign rather than concerning himself with the Democratic leadership contest.
“Frankly, what we need to be looking at is whether this election was rigged by Donald Trump and his buddy Vladimir Putin,” he said.