Former DNC Chair Tom Perez jumps into 2022 Maryland governor race

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Former Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chair Tom Perez on Wednesday announced a campaign for Maryland governor in the 2022 race to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.

“I want to build a Maryland where everyone has access to quality education and quality, affordable, health care. Where ZIP code never determines destiny,” Perez emphasized in a video launching his campaign.

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Pointing to his years leading the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department under President Obama and later as his labor secretary, Perez highlighted that “we did get a lot done, but there is so much more to do.”

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And Perez, the son of immigrants from the Dominican Republic who became the first Latino elected to Maryland’s Montgomery County Council and later served as the state’s secretary of labor, stressed that his “entire life has been about making government work and helping people and that is exactly what I will do as your governor.”

The launch video also includes clips of Obama praising Perez, calling him “one of the best secretaries of Labor in our history.”

But it doesn’t mention his tenure steering the national Democratic Party. 

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Perez, who was on the list of contenders to serve as 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s running mate, was elected DNC chair in early 2017, as the party tried to rebound following Donald Trump’s stunning victory over Clinton in 2016 presidential election.

Perez steered the rebuilding of the DNC, helping the party to retake the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections and the Senate and the White House in the 2020 cycle. During his tenure, the DNC’s fundraising machine was beefed up and Perez become familiar with some of the party’s top donors. Such connections will likely come in handy as he now runs for Maryland governor.

The former DNC chair joins an already crowded field of contenders for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination that includes Maryland comptroller Peter Franchot, former state attorney general Doug Gansler, former Prince George’s County executive Rushern Baker, and former Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr.

Current Maryland Secretary of Commerce and former Labor Secretary Kelly Schulz is running for the GOP nomination, as is attorney, political activist, and former state lawmaker Robin Ficker. And former Maryland lieutenant governor and former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele is seriously mulling a bid.

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Hogan narrowly won election as governor in 2014 in the deep blue state, but easily won reelection four years later. He’s considered a potential 2024 GOP presidential contender.