YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – It’s been eight years since the last race for the Democratic National Committee chair and this one was more contested than ever. Local Democrats say the new team is the first step to a comeback, but Republicans say nothing can compete with their party or president.
On Saturday, Former Labor Secretary Tom Perez was elected the new chair of the DNC. It was a tight and debated race, with many favoring Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison instead.
The margin was just 35 votes.
Congressman Tim Ryan said though the race was close, he’s convinced Perez will make a great chairman for the entire party.
“He has a history of being on the side of working class people, whether it was at the Department of Labor or the Civil Rights Division.”
Mahoning County Republican Party Chair Mark Munroe said Perez will have a hard time competing against their thriving political party.
“Republicans control the Senate, the House of Representatives, the White House. We control over 30, 33, 34 of the nation’s governors.”
In his first official act as chair, Perez selected his opponent, Keith Ellison, as deputy chair of the DNC — a sign of unity and strength within a fractured party.
“Democrats are a tent party but the things that unite us are much stronger than the things that divide us,” said Mahoning County Democratic Party Chair Dave Betras. “I think at the end of the day, we are all united in our opposition to the Trump administration and President Trump’s policies that he is enacting.”
Ryan said while new party leadership is necessary, demonstrating a commitment to the American people is far more important.
“If we continue to not talk about what’s on people’s minds — which is their jobs, their wages, their pension, their health care — then we’re never going to be a party that can come back.”
Munroe said he doesn’t see a Democratic comeback happening anytime soon.
“America is changing but it’s changing in our direction. Republican ideals are resonating with this country. That’s why we’ve been successful, that’s why Tom Perez has got such a difficult challenge ahead of him.”
Perez and Ellison are encouraging Democrats to get involved in the grassroots elements of the party. For local leaders, that means being active in everything from school boards to city council.