Despite the GOP’s established understanding of itself as a party with some serious diversity issues, Republicans are already coming out against Thomas Perez, Obama’s nominee for Labor Secretary. Considering the support Perez has garnered for his work as the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, challenging voter ID laws in South Carolina and Texas, one might think the GOP would embrace Perez. Lest we forget, it was Pennsylvania House Republican Leader Mike Turzai who notoriously said that voter ID laws in Pennsylvania would help Romney win the state.
That story ended with key components of the voter ID laws blocked, President Obama victorious in Pennsylvania, and Republicans appearing undemocratic and ridiculous. Based on the Republican National Committee’s recent report, it seems the GOP is are aware of this, its image as a party out of touch with minorities who undisputedly helped Democrats win the presidency. When it comes to Perez, however, there still seems to be lingering disdain for what some have called the Labor Secretary nominee’s progressive radicalism, his leanings (pro-immigration reform, pro-living wage) that may be too leftist for some conservative critics.
But backing Perez, who has both the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ support, could help Republicans signal to Latino voters that they have Latino concerns in mind. Indeed, if Perez is not approved as a Labor Secretary because of GOP opposition, Republicans will have continued their trend of estranging the crucial minority vote they went without last November.
The GOP needs to internalize that it’s not enough to just prop up Marco Rubio. At the Senate confirmation hearing on April 18th, Republicans should take a hint, compromise, and confirm Perez as Labor Secretary.