Democrats chose a new leader in Atlanta Saturday in the first step to healing a bitterly divided party.
Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez was elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Perez, 55, narrowly defeated U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota on a second ballot vote.
“I have no doubt in my mind it was the right thing to happen,” said Ken Evans, state committeeman for the Broward Democratic Executive Committee.
Evans attended the Atlanta meeting and cast his ballot for Perez. He said he had several sit-down meetings and conversations with Perez. Evans said those interactions assured him Perez was the right choice.
“He knows how to run a big organization,” Evans said.
Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, made a late surge in the voting, but eventually withdrew setting up a clash between Perez and Ellison supporters.
“I don’t vote for someone just because they are gay,” said Evans, who, like Buttigieg identifies as a gay man.
Ellison was backed by the party’s liberal wing, which includes diehard supporters of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders. After the election, Ellison promised to work with Perez on a 50-state strategy to make Democrats competitive again.
“It was a sincere embrace, there was nothing phony about it,” Evans said. “I think they’ll split the job and we have two great leaders.”
U.S. President Donald J. Trump monitored the proceedings in Atlanta, tweeting “The race for the DNC Chairman, was, of course, totally ‘rigged.’ Bernie’s guy, like Bernie himself, never had a chance. Clinton demanded Perez!”