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Buffalo-born Thomas Perez makes Hillary Clinton’s VP short list

WASHINGTON – Thomas E. Perez, a Buffalo native who serves as labor secretary in the Obama administration, has made Hillary Clinton’s short list for vice president.

The news comes as no surprise to anyone paying attention. Perez – who is beloved by progressives and the labor community – has taken an increasingly visible role campaigning for Clinton in recent months.

But there are surprises on Clinton’s short list, which the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

First of all, there’s the length of the list, which includes nine names: Perez; Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Tim Kaine of Virginia, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Cory Booker of New Jersey; Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro of Texas; Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; and Reps. Xavier Becerra of California and Tim Ryan of Ohio.

Garcetti and Ryan themselves are surprises, having figured little in the speculation to this point as to who Clinton will choose as her running mate.

The inclusion of Warren is a bit of a surprise, too, given that the firebrand liberal senator has stood aloof from Clinton through much of the campaign while carving out positions that are far more hostile to Wall Street than Clinton’s are.

Then there’s the big omission: Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who’s won a huge national following during his primary campaign.

But will Clinton choose Perez? Dylan Matthews of Vox and Scott Lemieux, a blogger at The American Prospect, offer differing takes on that possibility.

In his ranking of Clinton’s VP possibilities, Matthews ranked Perez fifth, behind Warren, Kaine, Brown and Castro.

While acknowledging that Perez could boost turnout among Latinos while serving as a powerful surrogate against Donald Trump, the likely Republican presidential nominee, Matthews noted a downside to a Perez nomination.

“Perez isn’t really a politician; the highest elected office he held was a single term on the Montgomery County Council in Maryland; his attempt to run for attorney general in Maryland in 2006 fell short because he didn’t meet legal eligibility requirements,” Matthews wrote. “Going from that to a national ticket would be quite a leap, and would require a degree of campaigning prowess that it’s not clear Perez possesses.”

But Lemieux, an assistant professor of political science at the College of St. Rose, said Perez possesses many of the strengths of the other Democratic VP candidates without their weaknesses.

“Like Castro, Perez – the son of Dominican immigrants who grew up in Buffalo – brings a valuable demographic appeal to the ticket,” Lemieux wrote in his piece. “Like Brown, Warren, and Sanders (and unlike Castro) Perez has a strong, progressive, pro-labor track record that should appeal to Sanders voters. And unlike Warren and Brown, his selection would not put a Democratic Senate seat at risk.”

email: jzremski@buffnews.com

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