Can Democrats appeal to all races? Internal dispute on race heats up in DNC contest

Can Democrats appeal to all races? Internal dispute on race heats up in DNC contest
Barack Obama, Thomas Perez (Image: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Since Hillary Clinton’s unexpected defeat in November, Democrats have been struggling with what needs to be done to rebuild their party. For the most part, that discussion has been muted in public — except when it comes to the contest over who will head up the Democratic National Committee.

Central to that contest have been questions of race. A divide has emerged between people who want the party to do more to energize members of minority groups — primarily African-Americans and Latinos, who are less likely to vote than white people — and those who feel the party has ignored the concerns of lower- and middle-income white voters.

At a debate forum held Monday night sponsored by the group Democracy in Color, the seven major candidates for chair of the Democratic National Committee held forth on race and the party, with several claiming that a competent party would be able to reach out to people of all races.

“It’s a false choice to say we’ll go to one community or the other,” said Tom Perez, who until last week was secretary of labor under Barack Obama. “We didn’t make house calls.”

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