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DNC Chair Perez Fires Up Local Organizers

Tom Perez speaks to Organizing Corps recruits at UW-Madison last week. Photo by L. Malik Anderson.

Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chair Tom Perez spoke to students from across the state during an Organizing Corps training session at the University of Wisconsin-Madison last Thursday, Jan. 16.

“All politics is personal. All politics is about connecting with people. All politics is building long-lasting relationships,” he said.

Organizing Corps 2020 is an unprecedented, multi-million dollar investment to recruit, pay, and train young people to work on the 2020 presidential cycle. The program has a particular focus on mentoring students from communities of color. Organizing Corps aims to ensure homegrown organizers for the Democratic nominee. 

Perez predicts a close race in Wisconsin in October. Last summer, he knocked on 20,000 doors in Milwaukee alongside Organizing Corps members. This is part of an effort to develop a relationship with voters ahead of the election.

Wisconsin’s importance in the 2020 race led, in part, to the DNC holding its national convention in Milwaukee this summer.

“We are here in Milwaukee for the convention because I understand the importance of Wisconsin,” he said. “Every decision I make is motivated by one thing: how does it help us win?”

Perez also spoke about not making politics transactional. He encouraged organizers to listen to the issues of residents and make connections with them. Perez said issues like the opioid crisis and health care touch Republicans, Democrats and independents. 

“You might knock on someone’s door and unbeknownst to you they might have lost someone because they didn’t have an EpiPen and you’re not going to talk about what you want to talk about but what they want to talk about,” he said.

Perez explained issues like addiction reach across racial and ethnic demographics, sexual orientation, and class. He also spoke about efforts to secure the election in other states including Arizona, gerrymandering, and the fight for a fair election.

“We just sued Texas because their voter ID laws make it hard for Black and Brown people to vote,” Perez said.

He also said the Democrats have a 50 state strategy in place and plan to focus on every zip code rather than focusing only on metropolitan areas. Perez said the party encourages innovation organizing among millennial and rural voters. 

“When you don’t show up in a community, that to me is a manifestation of disrespect and that’s what we’re doing different,” he said.

Perez also spoke about plans to create jobs for local residents during the 2020 Democratic National Convention. He said hiring people from the community that have a wide range of experiences is one way to show the party’s values.

“I don’t just want it to be a four-day party in Milwaukee. I want us to show up and show our values,” Perez said.