Democrats Slam Tom Perez's Performance as DNC Chair: 'Lot of Room for Improvement'

Former Secretary of Labor and current DNC chairman Tom Perez / Getty Images
October 12, 2017

Top Democratic politicians and bundlers have harsh reviews for the job performance of Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez, calling him unexciting and in need of drastic improvement.

Under Perez, the Democrats have not won any special House elections, and the DNC has struggled in fundraising despite the historic unpopularity of President Donald Trump.

The press slammed Perez for a series of vulgar comments in the spring about the Republican Party, and the Nebraska Democratic Party chair blamed him for losing the Omaha mayoral race because of his pro-choice litmus test for candidates.

Democratic Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (Ill.) told the Hill that "there's a lot of room for improvement" by Perez.

"Part of the problem is that when you're a parachutist into the party [and] you didn't work yourself up the party chain and in the trenches, I think you're going to have problems, especially with [what] is still a very divisive and contested match," Gutiérrez said Wednesday.

Perez was the favorite of establishment figures like Barack Obama to take over the DNC after a rocky 2016 for the party, winning out over Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.), who became vice chair. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.) was forced out as chair last year after evidence surfaced of party higher-ups showing favoritism toward Hillary Clinton over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) in the Democratic presidential primary.

Perez has also taken shots for underwhelming fundraising results. In July, the DNC raised only $3.8 million compared to the Republican National Committee's $10.2 million that same month. In August, the DNC raised only $4.4 million to the RNC's $7.3 million, and the DNC's debt increased to $4.1 million.

"A lot of us feel like there's nothing exciting, nothing invigorating coming from that building and particularly from Tom Perez," said one top Democratic bundler, who told the Hill that Perez did not coordinate the first meeting with fundraisers until "several weeks ago."

"I've never heard from him. Not once," the bundler said. "If you want to show strength, you personally reach out to all the big fundraisers."

Perez took criticism for taking a side position teaching at Brown University as a senior fellow, despite calling the DNC chairmanship a "full-time job."

"Being DNC chair is a full-time job," one strategist said. "There isn't time for side gigs."