Labor Sec. Tom Perez on Friday will become the third Obama cabinet member to officially endorse Hillary Clinton as he campaigns with her in Iowa.
“Progressives believe in making progress, which is why I’m proud to endorse Hillary Clinton who I know will continue fighting to ensure our children and grandchildren can achieve their highest and best dreams,” Perez said in a statement provided by the Clinton campaign. “Secretary Clinton is tough, smart, and understands better than any candidate the challenges that parents are talking about around dinner tables and keeping families up at night. In the coming months, I look forward to hitting the campaign trail to highlight the progress we’ve made as a nation, the unfinished business, and why Hillary Clinton is the fighter we need leading that effort.”
Perez is well known and respected among the institutional left, and is often dispatched to represent the White House before key Democratic constituencies, especially organized labor and Latinos. A Clinton aide said Perez will be an active surrogate for the campaign, hitting the road as soon as next week.
At a moment when the party is focused on police accountability, Perez can draw on his tenure heading the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice to be a key validator for Clinton there as well. At the DoJ, he also worked on voting rights issue, which are sure to play major role in the 2016 general election.
Meanwhile, the endorsement is a sting to Democratic presidential rival Martin O’Malley, since the former Maryland governor appointed Perez to serve in his cabinet as Maryland’s labor secretary.
Clinton’s other two Obama cabinet backers are Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who is also the former governor of Iowa, and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, who is seen as a potential vice presidential pick if Clinton wins the Democratic nomination.