Perez gives pep talk to local Democrats

DNC Chair Tom Perez urges local party activists to get ready for the 2018 election during a rally in South St. Paul. Tim Pugmire | MPR News

Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez says the nation’s democracy, under the administration of President Donald Trump, is facing its “worst and most serious stress test” in generations.

Perez spoke to a group of Minnesota Democrats Monday at a rally at the AFSCME Council 5 headquarters in South St. Paul. The event was part of the national party’s “Resistance Summer” program, which is aimed at helping state parties with their local organizing efforts ahead of the 2018 election.

It’s also aimed at harnessing opposition to President Trump’s agenda.

“Every single time we seem like we’re spinning out of control, we right ourselves,” Perez said. “The instrument that enables us to do that is not a piece of technology. It’s you.”

Perez urged attendees to get organized and fight for the party’s values. He said many of those values, including health care and labor rights, are currently under attack. Perez said Trump makes him miss President Obama, whom he said carried himself with grace and dignity.

“I can’t say that for the current occupant of the White House,” he said.

Perez frequently mentioned his desire to defeat Republican Second District Congressman Jason Lewis next year. He predicted “CD 2 is turning blue.”

“Perez is bringing his failed leadership to Minnesota to mobilize an extreme fringe element of the Minnesota DFL base in a shameful attempt to “resist” meaningful progress by President Trump and Republicans in Congress,” countered Republican Party of Minnesota Chair Jennifer Carnahan in a statement.

Perez was joined by Congressman Keith Ellison, who serves at DNC deputy chair and is running the Resistance Summer effort. Ellison told activists that they cannot stand on the sidelines.

“We are serious,” Ellison said. “We are prepared to fight back, and it’s not just being against Trump. It’s about holding up the best values of this nation.”