Perez is a longtime supporter of Marco Rubio who once helped the presidential candidate win a seat in the state legislature.
Today, the walls of his office in Hialeah, Florida, are covered with old photos of a baby-faced Rubio and some old campaign signs, including one from Rubio’s 2004 race for the Florida state House of Representatives.
"I am so proud of him," the 74-year-old said. "I always thought he would go far."
Perez has become a kind of “political godfather” figure to Rubio, who writes about Perez in his book, "An American Son":
"Modesto was a self-made man who spent his days at the warehouse where he sold water coolers, using his political contacts to help his neighbors. When he agreed to help a candidate, he had a simple expectation in return. If you were elected, and he asked for your help on behalf of people who had come to him for help, you would give it. They were always legitimate requests: a small store owner who wanted to get a lottery ticket terminal, a grandmother who needed a letter of recommendation for her granddaughter’s college application—that kind of thing. It was retail politics at its purest, and Modesto was a master of it."