Former Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez on Wednesday launched his bid to become the next governor of Maryland, seeking to parlay a flashy resume into actual votes.
Mr. Perez enters a crowded race that will determine whether Democrats can claw back the governor’s mansion from Republicans after two terms of Gov. Larry Hogan, who remains popular in the solidly blue state.
“My entire life has been about making government work and helping people and that is exactly what I will do as your governor,” Mr. Perez said in his announcement video.
Mr. Perez, who burnished his political reputation as an official in the Obama administration, pledged that as governor he would fight for quality education and health care, good jobs, safer communities, equal justice and a healthier environment.
He served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee since 2017 after emerging victorious in a competitive contest against then-Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the far-left champion in the race.
Mr. Perez could face a similar challenge from his left flank in a Democratic gubernatorial primary race that so far features nine candidates, including Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, former U.S. Secretary of Education John King Jr., former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker and former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler.
His announcement was met with cheers from establishment figures and jeers from grassroots activists
The Democratic and Republican primary elections are scheduled for June 28, 2022.
Mr. Hogan is barred from running for a third term because of term limits. He is thought to be considering a bid for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024.
Mr. Perez enters the race with a long resume.
As chair of the Democratic National Committee, Mr. Perez helped the party take back the White House and flip both chambers of Congress.
He previously served as U.S. Secretary of Labor and U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. He also served as a member of the Montgomery County Council from 2002 to 2006.
In his announcement video, Mr. Perez is portrayed as far more than a government bureaucrat.
It features personal stories from one of his daughters, as well as former colleagues that served alongside him in the Justice Department.
Mr. Perez introduces himself as the son of Dominican immigrants, and he talks about how he helped pay his way through college by working on a garbage truck.
“I was 12 years old when my dad died very suddenly. My mom was hospitalized roughly a month later, and I learned from that experience that time is the most precious asset we have and I want to make sure I use every day of my life to give back,” Mr. Perez says in the video.
The video features old footage of former President Obama praising him at the White House for the “extraordinary” work he has done on behalf of working people, and casting Mr. Perez‘s life story as a reminder “of this country’s promise.”
“If you are willing to work hard it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, what your last name is — you can make it if you try and Tom has made protecting that promise for everybody the cause of his life,” Mr. Obama says.