Democrats face two problems, according to the party’s national chairman, Tom Perez: lack of infrastructure and no clear message to convey values.
“We not only lost the presidential election in November of 2016 but we’ve also lost a number of elections for state legislature and the senate, et cetera. What we have to do is get back to basics. We have to organize 12 months a year, not just the two months that lead up to the election,” said Perez during an appearance on WFAA-TV’s Inside Texas Politics this morning. “When we have an every ZIP code strategy and when we’re talking to people everywhere, that’s how we succeed. And we got away from that. And that’s what we’re doing differently and better now.”
But as the Democratic Party rebuilds, some on the left say it needs new faces as much as it needs new ideas.
Perez would not directly answer whether House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, 77 and in Congress since 1987, should step away from her leadership position.
“Well listen, the Affordable Care Act has been a life saver. Nancy Pelosi is one of the two or three people singularly responsible for the passage of the Affordable Care Act. What we've seen from Donald Trump is he doesn't know how to govern. He can't get things done. He claims he's the wheeler dealer and he can't close the deal.
When pressed whether Democrats should have someone else besides the congresswoman up front, Perez said: “What we need to do is make sure we're out there every single day telling people what we stand for.”
Perez, the former U.S. Secretary of Labor under President Obama who prefers to be called ‘Tom,’ said Democrats primary focus now is to resist and rebuild.
Still, internally, the party is as divided as Republicans.
“We’ve always been fighting for working people, to make sure their kids have access to quality education, that they have access to a good job that pays a fair wage that gives you a roof over your head, that gives you healthcare for you and your family and a decent retirement. That’s what the Democratic Party has always been for,” he told WFAA. “We have to organize, organize, organize. We have to be in every ZIP code. We can’t just be the party of one section of the country or one part of the state. And that’s what we’re doing.”
In Texas, Democrats have yet to recruit a serious candidate to challenge Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Texas.
Perez was asked whether Democrats will win any statewide seats next year.
“I think we’re going to be very competitive in Texas. I’m out here now. We’re organizing. We have a great candidate for Senate. He outraised [U.S. Sen.] Ted Cruz as I understand it. Congressman [Beto] O’Rourke [is] going to places that Democrats need to go to. He’s going to Midland, Odessa with a remarkably optimistic message that I can make this economy work for everyone and I’m not going to divide this state like Governor Abbott is doing with this special session. The most important issues facing this state are not bathrooms. And they’re not sanctuary cities. They’re education, and healthcare and jobs.”
Watch the entire interview below: