No Running Mate, Perez Still Stumps for Clinton

No Running Mate, Perez Still Stumps for Clinton

When Hillary Clinton picked Virginia Senator Tim Kaine as her running mate last week, there was a predictable collective groan from progressives, particularly Latinos, who had been hoping for a selection more squarely in their camp.

Among those on the final shortlist, Tom Perez had been the clear favorite of many progressives looking for Clinton to shore up her support on the left. During President Obama’s second term, Perez has pushed through a series of labor reforms that have prompted some to hail him as the most important labor secretary since Frances Perkins served under FDR.

Perez’s prolific career in public service, his detail-oriented pragmatism, and his reputation for getting results without compromising his progressive values landed him on a list of finalists that included such white centrist contenders as Kaine and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. A son of Dominican immigrants, Perez was the only Latino candidate to receive serious consideration, and was considered a draw for Latino voters and an effective attack dog against Donald Trump.

Clinton’s failure to tap a progressive like Perez for her running mate was one of several reasons that Sanders supporters headed into the Democratic National Convention in such a disgruntled mood.

But at a speech delivered to the DNC’s Hispanic Caucus in Philadelphia Wednesday, Perez made a forceful pitch for Clinton and Kaine. His message was clear: Latinos need to mobilize now.

Perez acknowledged decreases in Latino unemployment and poverty levels and an uptick in access to health insurance, but said there’s more to be done.

“We know there is unfinished business,” Perez declared. “And who is better equipped to handle that unfinished business, starting with passage next year of comprehensive immigration reform than Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine?”

Speaking to reporters after his speech, Perez praised Kaine.

“I know Tim Kaine well. He is a person with the same values as our values. He is a magnificent person,” Perez told a reporter in Spanish. “I’m going to travel all over this country to help the secretary and the senator. Because Donald Trump? His values are not our values.”

Another reporter asked what he would tell Latinos who think that Clinton’s decision to pass over Perez as her running mate is another signal from the Democratic Party that Latinos need to wait their turn.

Perez didn’t bite.

“We’re all working together. It’s bigger than any one person. We’re all in this together,” Perez said. “We’re at a moment in our nation’s history where we have an opportunity to send a message not only to America but to the world about the fact that we are stronger together and that e plurubis unum is who we are all about.”