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Tom Perez Reaches Out for Jewish Support in Race for Democratic Chief

Labor Secretary Tom Perez is working to enlist Jewish support for his bid to become the next chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Perez held a conference call on December 21 with some 50 Jewish leaders in which, according to the Times of Israel, he presented his views and highlighted his close ties with he Anti-Defamation League. The ADL had criticized Perez’s chief rival for the job, Minnesota congressman Keith Ellison, for comments he had made in the past regarding Israel. Ellison argued that the comments were taken out of context.

Participants on the call, according to the report, viewed Perez’s message and delivery in a positive light. “The fact that someone named Tom Perez is able to sum up, in an emotional way, the connection of the Jewish community to the Democratic Party,” said Florida congressman Ted Deutch, “resonates and says a lot.” Another participant on the call was quoted as saying that while Perez comes with no previous baggage to the race, Ellison was forced to explain his positions on Israel when reaching out to Jewish Democrats.

“I thought Tom’s discussion of his values, his experience, and skill set was right on,” Democratic operative and Clinton adviser Ann Lewis told the Jewish Insider.

The vote for DNC chairmanship is scheduled for February 26. Ellison enjoys the backing of incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and of the left-leaning pro-Israel lobby J Street.

Contact Nathan Guttman at guttman@forward.com or on Twitter @nathanguttman

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Tom Perez Reaches Out for Jewish Support in Race for Democratic Chief

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