Former Vice President Joe Biden weighed in on the race for the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee on Wednesday, endorsing a fellow member of the Obama administration: former Labor Secretary Tom Perez.
“I’ve known Tom Perez for a long time. He’s a man of integrity and vision,” Biden said in a statement. “And he knows what it means to be a Democrat—that we are a party that fights for economic fairness for working families and believes that everyone is entitled to be treated with dignity, regardless of who they are, where they come from, or who they love.”
He acknowledged that there are “a lot of good people” in the race but said he believed Perez is “our best bet to help bring the party back.”
“Tom knows how to talk to people, not down to them,” he said. “He knows how to explain why our party’s core beliefs matter to the immigrant family in Arizona and the coal miner in West Virginia. That matters.”
Biden’s move pits Biden against the more progressive wing of the Democratic Party, many of whom are supporting Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota) for the chairman job. The race for the DNC is seen as a proxy war for the fight over the future of the Democratic Party, and the message Democrats will bet on going forward.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), who has supported Ellison for months, on Wednesday fired back at Biden over his endorsement of Perez -- and framed the race as a choice between a “failed status-quo approach” or moving “forward.”
“The question is simple: Do we stay with a failed status-quo approach or do we go forward with a fundamental restructuring of the Democratic Party?” Sanders said. “I say we go forward and create a grassroots party which speaks for working people.”
Though Ellison and Perez have largely dominated the DNC race, they are far from the only candidates running: other contenders include South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, South Carolina Democratic Chairman Jaime Harrison, New Hampshire Democratic Chairman Raymond Buckley.
The next chairman will be elected during the DNC’s meeting in Atlanta on Feb. 24.