Former Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez announced Wednesday he’s seeking the Democratic nomination for Maryland governor because “it’s time to get stuff done.”

Perez, 59, made his announcement in downtown Silver Spring among dozens of supporters and a month after he became a partner at the D.C. law firm Venable.

“We have an opportunity to take this energy that exists on the streets … take this moment and turn it into a movement,” said Perez, who’s raised three children in Montgomery County with his wife, Ann Marie Staudenmaier. “I am running to be your next governor because I want to build a Maryland where everybody has access to opportunity.”

With 73% of Maryland’s adult population having received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine so far, Perez plans to conduct some in-person events for about a week with stops in Prince George’s County, the Eastern shore and Western Maryland.

Some of his campaign platform includes health care for all, combat climate change and a strong ally for unions and its workforce.

After he left Silver Spring, he traveled to Baltimore City, where he plans, if elected, to reestablish a proposal to build the light-rail Red Line in the city, a project from which Republican Gov. Larry Hogan withdrew.

One of the biggest endorsements Wednesday morning came from former Montgomery County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett. The former county leader, who served from 2006 to 2018, praised the other Democrats in the race, but said Perez “is the right person, [at] the right time for this job.”

“We’re talking about voter’s rights. We’re talking about health care. We’re talking about environmental justice. All of those things have an equity and civil rights component,” Leggett said in an interview after Perez’s announcement. “You can’t solve all of that unless you’re prepared to solve it for everyone. Civil rights, which is a part of his DNA, all of those are connected in some form or fashion. He’s worked on that all of his professional career.”

Before Perez served for four years representing the party now led by former South Carolina Senate candidate Jamie Harrison, he started as an organizer and board member with Casa de Maryland from 1995 to 2002. In 2002, he became the first Latino elected to the Montgomery County Council.

In 2006, Perez planned to run for Maryland attorney general, but a state Court of Appeals ruled he didn’t meet a constitutional requirement that candidates must practice law for in the state for 10 years.

For nearly eight years under the Barack Obama administration, Perez, with his work as a civil rights attorney, led the Justice Department’s civil rights division from October 2009 to July 2013. He then became appointed as labor secretary from July 2013 to January 2017.

In a video released Wednesday by Perez, titled “Ready to Serve Maryland,” he posted comments made by President Obama, who said in 2016 called Perez “one of the best secretaries of labor in our history.”

Born in Buffalo, New York, to immigrant parents from the Dominican Republic, Perez’s extensive educational background includes college degrees from Brown University, Harvard Law School and Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Maryland Democrats seek to install someone from the party in the governor’s mansion after next year’s general election, which Republicans captured in three of the past five gubernatorial races.

Maryland law only allows candidates to remain in office for two four-year terms. Hogan’s last day will be January 2023.

Perez joins a crowded field of Democrats that includes Jon Baron, a former nonprofit executive and official in the Clinton administration, author Wes Moore, state Comptroller Peter Franchot, former Obama administration official Ashwani Jain; former U.S. Education Secretary John King Jr., businessman Mike Rosenbaum and former state Attorney General Doug Gansler.

Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz, who resides in Frederick County, in April was the first Republican to declare a gubernatorial bid. Robin Ficker, an attorney who has run for numerous state and local offices over the years, also seeks the GOP nomination.

The Democratic primary takes place on June 28, 2022.

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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