Former Democratic National Committee chair and gubernatorial candidate Tom Perez said he has no regrets about having supported the 2016 presidential campaign of fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Early in Trump’s tenure in office Perez continued to carry the mantle for Clinton, attributing her loss to “insufficient and substandard tools for success,” from the DNC, and Russian attempts to influence the outcome of the election.
The latter was at the heart of an April 2018 DNC lawsuit that alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow and WikiLeaks. The suit was dismissed with prejudice in July 2019.
“I was proud to support Secretary Clinton in 2016 and I was proud to then help lead the effort to make sure that Donald Trump was a one-term president,” Perez told MarylandReporter.com.
He added: “I was proud to support the effort that resulted in us moving from 15 Democratic governors to 23 Democratic governors. Taking the House, the Senate, the White House, back. Flipping eight state legislative chambers.”
Perez said he hopes to build on those accomplishments as governor.
“We have accomplished a lot. But we have more work to do. Here in Maryland, I believe that we can build an economy that works for everyone.We can make sure that everyone has access to quality affordable broadband. There is so much that we can do here in the state of Maryland.”
But is Perez, who faces eight primary opponents, the right person to succeed popular two-term GOP incumbent Gov. Larry Hogan? And will Perez’s support for Clinton, who won Maryland with 60% of the vote, help or hurt the candidate nearly 6 years after the fact?
“I would be surprised if either Perez or [former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern] Baker would win the Democratic primary,” Towson University professor of political persuasion Richard Vatz said. “Perez seems to be a Maryland interloper, and his position on Clinton seems not propitiously timed for a gubernatorial race following a successful and popular conservative governor’s tenure.”
Vatz said that both Perez and Baker are unlikely to gain significant political traction.
“Neither has much charisma, and neither has at this point much cachet with the Maryland electorate.”
Sen. Jill Carter, D-Baltimore City, seemed to somewhat agree, saying she believes Comptroller Peter Franchot has an “edge” right now among Democratic primary voters and that he is likely to “become Maryland’s next governor” unless something really unexpected occurs.
However, Carter also said that “almost any of the candidates” in the race “have the ability to become frontrunners.”
As for Perez’s support for Clinton, “it doesn’t really matter,” and has little “to do with anything,” Carter said.
But can Perez win?
Sen. Cory McCray, D-Baltimore City, seems to think so. He endorsed the former state and former U.S. labor secretary and said he believes Perez has the right combination of experience to set himself apart from the other candidates in the primary field.
“I think that when you look at all of the candidates, there is no one else who has that level of a trifecta of local, state, and federal experience. I think that he is the guy that we give the tough jobs to.”
McCray pointed to key issues that Perez has championed during his career in public service.
“We saw that with the Verizon workers, IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) and the CWA (Communications Workers of America)…We saw that with the discriminatory mortgage practices” that Perez fought when he was at DOJ. “And we saw that with police accountability, way before it was even cool.”
MarylandReporter.com reached out to Perez’s campaign for further comment about his views on the reasons for Clinton’s defeat but did not hear back by the deadline for this story.