Meet Possible Vice President Pick Tom Perez

Unless you’re a Washington insider or a close follower of politics, you probably haven’t heard the name “Thomas Perez.” But chances are high that you’re about to hear it a lot more often.

Perez is a rumored favorite to be the Democratic vice presidential candidate — at least for the Clinton campaign.

A Clinton/Perez ticket could be a powerhouse in November if she manages to clinch the nomination. That may be why so many prominent Democrats are very interested in Perez’s political potential — after all, his term as Secretary of Labor expires January 20, 2017. Presumably Perez will look for another rewarding job in politics.

Born in 1961 to Dominican immigrants, Perez has spent his entire public life in adult service, with a specific focus on social justice and equality. He attended Brown University and later Harvard, but not as one of the privileged youth whom many might imagine in the halls of these costly institutions of higher learning — he took out student loans, applied for need-based grants and even worked as a trash collector to pay for his education. While in school, Perez also worked as a clerk for Attorney General Edwin Meese, laying the groundwork for a lengthy career that would span a variety of civil service positions.

Perez may not have the handsome charisma of many candidates, but he boasts an incredibly solid record.

As a clerk and federal prosecutor, Perez had a particular interest in civil rights cases. His grounding in the subject led to a professorship at the University of Maryland, as well as a part-time position at George Washington University.

From 2002-2006, Perez served on the Montgomery County Council, dominating his Republican opponent in the election and becoming the first Latino on the Council. During his tenure, he fought predatory and subprime lending, concerned about the looming financial crisis that many of his fellow politicians were ignoring. Perez also opposed the privatization and conglomeration of health care, as well as rising costs for prescription medications.

In 2007, the state’s newly-elected governor appointed Perez to serve as Maryland’s Secretary of Labor, a role he took to with relish. He challenged employer fraud and the misclassification of workers as independent contractors, an issue that’s become a significant issue in the tech industry of today.

From there, Perez moved to the position of Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights under the tenure of President Barack Obama. He served in the Justice Department until 2013.

Perez turned out to be a fiery, adept and aggressive litigator with a passionate range of civil rights interests including bullying, hate crimes, voter intimidation, police shootings, student discrimination, veteran protection and voter identification laws. He successfully prosecuted and investigated a range of cases, establishing an extremely strong civil rights background.

Perez was a natural nominee for Labor Secretary after Hilda Solis left the position. But his nomination proved to be contentious and fell out strictly along party lines. It was a historic event that illustrated Perez’s popularity among Democrats and potential challenges with Republicans.

Amidst his many professional accomplishments, Secretary Perez also somehow managed to find time to marry Ann Marie Staudenmier, an attorney who works at the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless. The couple have three children. Staudenmier, like her husband, is a passionate civil rights advocate with years of litigation experience. Her focus has been on training volunteer attorneys at the clinic, as well as handling police-related litigation.

With such an illustrious career, it’s probably not surprising that Perez’s name is being floated as a possible pick for the Clinton campaign. He’s already stumped with her on numerous occasions, and high-profile Democrats like popular icon Elizabeth Warren speak very highly of him, hinting at possible endorsements.

From the campaign’s perspective, Perez would add a depth of legal and civil rights experience to back up Clinton’s already formidable legal record. The campaign also likely hopes to capture the Latino vote with his assistance.

As a vice president, Perez would likely be dynamic and engaged in expanding and protecting civil rights for all Americans, including those who are least able to speak up for themselves.

Critically, Perez is also highly liberal, which could make him appealing to disillusioned Sanders voters if their candidate fails to capture the nomination — the assurance of a progressive on the ticket could be important when it comes to drawing them to the polls in November.

Photo credit: U.S. Department of Labor

46 comments

ERIKA SOMLAI
ERIKA Sabout a year ago

noted

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ERIKA SOMLAI
ERIKA Sabout a year ago

noted

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus C1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill1 years ago

No Hillary, she can't be trusted!

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Margaret Goodman
Margaret G1 years ago

As a Sanders supporter, I like most of what this article says about Tom Perez. The glaring exception is his working for Edwin Meese, who was Attorney General for President Ronald Reagan. Meese is a Heritage Foundation conservative. I wonder what kind of civil rights victories Perez could possibly have done while working for Meese.

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ERIKA SOMLAI
ERIKA S1 years ago

noted

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James Maynard
James Maynard1 years ago

You're right, had not heard much about him - thanks!

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ERIKA SOMLAI
ERIKA S1 years ago

noted

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Patricia Harris
John Taylor1 years ago

If he's one of the few people who actually cares about this planet and all it's inhabitants, then I would accept him as VP. We really need a leader who would put an end to all the disasters going on right now, from environmental pollution, to poaching/trophy hunting, to deforestation, to mining, to fracking, to drilling, and so on...

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ERIKA SOMLAI
ERIKA S1 years ago

noted

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