Obama Cabinet member Perez may run against Ellison to lead DNC

President Obama's labor secretary, Tom Perez, is rumored to be ramping up his bid to chair the Democratic National Committee.

Perez has worked within government most of his life and is an advocate for both a higher minimum wage and paid parental leave.

He's also been a civil rights advocate and has gone after discriminatory voter ID laws.

The current front-runner for the job, Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, hails from the progressive wing of the party. He was an early backer of Sen. Bernie Sanders' primary challenge to Hillary Clinton.

RELATED: Rep. Keith Ellison announces DNC chairman candidacy

Rep. Keith Ellison announces DNC chairman candidacy
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Rep. Keith Ellison announces DNC chairman candidacy

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) speaks during the first session at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 25, 2016.

(REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich)

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (C) stands on stage with his wife, Jane O'Meara Sanders (R), and U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (DFL-MN) before speaking to supporters during a campaign rally in St. Paul, Minnesota, January 26, 2016.

(REUTERS/Eric Miller)

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) is arrested by U.S. Capitol Police after blocking First Street NW in front of the U.S. Capitol with fellow supporters of immigration reform, on October 8, 2013 in Washington, DC. Last week, House Democrats introduced their own immigration reform bill.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., attends a rally with low wage federal contract workers on the steps the Department of Labor to call for the minimum wage be raised to $15 per hour, April 14, 2016.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Keith Ellison, D-Minn., leaves a meeting with House Democrats in the Capitol Visitor Center, June 22, 2016. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton spoke at the meeting.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Congressman Keith Ellison speaks on stage during 'A More Perfect Union: Obama and The Racial Divide,' featuring Congressman Keith Ellison, Alicia Garza, Margo Jefferson, and Khalil Gibran Muhammad in conversation wiith Jelani Cobb during The New Yorker Festival 2016 at Acura at SIR Stage37 on October 9, 2016 in New York City.

(Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for The New Yorker)


He's been endorsed for the role by the AFL-CIO and Sanders himself, as well as establishment Democrats like Sen. Chuck Schumer.

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But Ellison took a hit when he was called out by the Anti-Defamation League, which claimed some of his comments about Israel were anti-Semitic.

His supporters brush this aside as a smear campaign against the first Muslim member of Congress.

These distractions seem to have opened the door for Perez, whose Dominican family heritage and past labor advocacy gives him a unique platform to reach both Hispanic and white working-class voters.

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But Perez's candidacy might not sit well with the progressive left due to his support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other centrist Obama administration initiatives.

Whoever is chosen will have to bridge the gap between establishment Obama-types and the progressive wing of the party led by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

DNC members will vote on their next chair in late February.

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