Checking in With Tom Perez

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez gestures to Montgomery County Councilman Tom Hucker at an early voting site Thursday as Marc Elrich, the Democratic nominee for county executive, looks on. Photo by Josh Kurtz

Tom Perez slipped into town Thursday to vote early and say a few nice words about local Democratic candidates before hitting the road again for the big push to Election Day.

“I slept in my own bed last night for the first time in two weeks, I think,” Perez, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said in front of the Silver Spring Civic Building.

In addition to voting, Perez was there to boost Montgomery County Councilman Marc B. Elrich, the Democratic nominee for county executive who is embroiled in a far closer than expected three-way general election.

Perez recounted that Elrich was his 22-year-old daughter’s 5th grade teacher. Perez said his daughter, now living in Bogota, Colombia, explicitly requested an absentee ballot so she could support Elrich.

“She told me to make sure to vote for you because you were an inspirational teacher,” Perez said.

In an interview, Perez said he thinks Maryland gubernatorial nominee Benjamin T. Jealous can prevail, even though he trails in the polls, pegging his optimism on voter turnout figures during the weeklong early voting period.

“In Maryland and across the country, if Democrats turn out in force, we win,” he said.

Perez argued that Democrats have been exceeding expectations all over the U.S.

“I was told last year that Doug Jones couldn’t win in Alabama and he won,” Perez said. “I was told we couldn’t pick up seats in Oklahoma and we did. One thing I’m seeing is that polling is very fickle.”

Perez said he has been to Tennessee, Mississippi, Nevada, Colorado, California and Ohio over the past two weeks. He heads to Florida Friday for a campaign rally in Miami with President Obama and leading Democratic candidates, then will hit Georgia and Ohio before winding up in Wisconsin – where his in-laws live – on Monday night and Tuesday morning.

“This is the sprint to the finish line,” Perez said.

On election night, he plans to be in Washington, D.C., where he’ll make TV appearances and keep a close eye on multiple races.

“I think we’re poised to take the House of Representatives,” Perez predicted. “I think we’re going to surprise people in the Senate. And I’m very optimistic about our prospects in governor’s elections.”

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Josh Kurtz
Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.

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