Democrats' new chair on electoral mistakes: 'We ignored rural swaths of America'

Newly elected DNC chair Tom Perez spoke with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos.

ByABC News
February 26, 2017, 1:46 PM

— -- The new chair of the Democratic National Committee acknowledged the party made mistakes in its past election strategy and has work ahead to win more seats at all levels of government.

“We didn't invest enough in our state party infrastructure,” newly-elected DNC Chair Tom Perez told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” Sunday. “We didn't invest enough in grassroots organizing. We ignored rural swaths of America.”

“We need an every zip code strategy. We need to redefine the role of the DNC so that we're helping to elect people from the school board to the Senate,” Perez added.

The former Obama administration labor secretary was elected as the Democratic National Committee’s new chair on Saturday after a close race against the other leading contender, Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison. Perez won by 235 to 200 on a second round of voting after none of the candidates received the majority of votes on the first ballot.

In a show of unity, Perez immediately after his election named Ellison as deputy chair, and the two stood together at the podium.Many in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party had backed Ellison, who was an early supporter of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential primary, and who was backed by Sanders to lead the DNC. Ellison was also endorsed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Stephanopoulos asked about apparent discord at the DNC meeting with some protest chants after Perez won, and Sanders' statement later that it was “imperative that Tom understands that the same-old, same-old is not working and that we must open the doors of the party to working people and young people in a way that has never been done before.”

Perez responded that “Congressman Ellison and I are united, and our values our identical ... We want to make sure that everyone has a fair shake. These are things that Donald Trump is fighting against."

“Our Democratic unity is Donald Trump's worst nightmare,” Perez said. "When we lead with our values, we win. And that's what we're going to do."

The new DNC chair added, "There is such an electricity out there across America, and it's not just the traditional activists ... Congressman Ellison has been spectacular at tapping into that grassroots advocacy. And we're working together to translate this activism into results.”

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