Another Maryland contestant, Tom Perez, and from the People’s Republic of Takoma Park, no less. And this one’s in Politico, so it must be true right? All kidding aside, it’s clear the speculation is more than just idle gossip. I was a volunteer on his 2002 County Council campaign, so I’d actually know a Vice President from before he went all viral. How cool is that?
Aside from the wonkiest of Washington circles and the most progressive corners of the left, no one’s heard of Tom Perez. He isn’t young or handsome. He has zero foreign policy experience. The highest office he’s ever been elected to is a suburban county council.
Yet the Labor secretary has emerged as a vice presidential sleeper pick, with chatter building among top Democrats—including Elizabeth Warren.
The Massachusetts senator and a few of her colleagues were standing around on the House floor in late September after Pope Francis’ address to the joint session of Congress, playing the Hillary Clinton running mate guessing game.
Warren doesn’t usually talk politicking, never much one for the speculation. But looking at Perez standing with them and thinking about their work together, she joined in.
“Oh, you’d be great, Tom,” she said.
* * *
The idea of Perez making the leap to vice president is, on the face of it, inconceivable: Aside from his limited experience in elected office, it’s not like Clinton would need him to win Maryland or the couldn’t-be-more-liberal D.C. suburb of Takoma Park, where he lives.
Except Perez has more credibility with committed progressives – who measure politicians in battle scars – than almost anyone else around. The unions love him so much that they were pushing against him getting picked to replace Eric Holder as attorney general in late 2014 because they didn’t want to lose him at Labor.
He’s spent years working at the Justice Department on voting rights and civil rights and police misconduct, right in the center of issues that have exploded among African-Americans and with progressive Democrats. He’s adored in the White House, where he’s been a main player in crafting the Obama second-term domestic agenda, and he’s got a knack for a fiery stump speech. Also, he’s Dominican. And unlike Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julían Castro, the other Latino Cabinet secretary more often talked about for VP (whom nearly every conversation about Perez becomes at least an implicit comparison to), Perez speaks Spanish.