Tom Perez Scores an Own Goal in DNC Contest

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Perez shows a bit too much empathy for Sanders supporters. Photo: Pete Marovich/Getty Images

While barnstorming through Kansas in his bid to become chairman of the Democratic National Committee, former Labor secretary Tom Perez conducted a tad too much outreach to those who supported and still mourn Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign:

“We heard loudly and clearly yesterday from Bernie supporters that the process was rigged, and it was. And you’ve got to be honest about it. That’s why we need a chair who is transparent.”

Perez, you see, is by all accounts the candidate of the Hillary Clinton–Barack Obama camp to run the DNC. If perchance any “rigging” was done in the primaries, he’s probably cheek by jowl with the riggers. Beyond that, bringing up what was the most inflammatory (and arguably the least compelling) complaint of the Sanders campaign is not a very effective way to put last year’s divisions behind Democrats for good.

Backpeddling furiously, Perez tried to bury his gaffe:

On Twitter, he said that he had “misspoke” and clarified that Clinton had won “fair and square” — but that it was essential for the next DNC chair to be transparent to avoid the perception that “a thumb was placed on the scale.”

Ah, so it’s the perception, not the reality, of “rigging” that’s the problem, eh? Being told they imagined it all is not necessarily helpful with Sanders hardliners, and it probably was not the best idea to use another phrase you heard a lot from disgruntled People of the Bern: “thumb on the scale.”

It seems unlikely that Perez’s clumsy and half-retracted gesture will gain him enough support from the Sanders camp to offset the annoyance of Clinton loyalists. With the balloting for the DNC gig just a couple of weeks away, the actual candidate of the Sanders camp, Keith Ellison, probably watched Perez and thought: “Thank you.”

Tom Perez Scores an Own Goal in DNC Contest