Keith Ellison picks ex-DNC Latino as press secretary

Keith Ellison picks ex-DNC Latino as press secretary
© Greg Nash
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), a leading candidate to head the Democratic National Committee (DNC), hired the organization's former Western regional communications director Wednesday to be the national press secretary for his chairmanship bid.
 
Ellison picked Walter Garcia, 25, who has worked at the DNC since 2015. Garcia confirmed the appointment to The Hill.
 
Garcia, who is bilingual, assisted Democratic campaigns in the Southwest in last year's presidential and congressional races.
 
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Labor Secretary Tom Perez, a firebrand speaker who had high aspirations in a potential Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats bristle as Hicks appears for daylong Capitol Hill testimony Democrats bristle as Hicks appears for daylong Capitol Hill testimony Trump: 'So sad' Democrats are putting Hope Hicks 'through hell' MORE cabinet, is the other leading contender in the races. Perez entered the race with endorsements from the governors of Virginia, Colorado, Rhode Island and Louisiana.
 
Perez also gained the support of the food workers', firefighters' and farm workers' unions.
 
Also running are Sally Boynton Brown, executive director of the Idaho Democratic Party; Raymond Buckley, chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party; Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana and Jaime Harrison, chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party.
 
Despite his long list of endorsements, Ellison will have to contend with past controversies. At a 2010 fundraiser hosted by the president of the Muslim American Society, Ellison criticized the state of U.S.-Israel relations, earning scorn from the Anti-Defamation League.
 
Ellison has said he will resign his House seat if he wins the DNC chair, a move that came after party members called for a full-time DNC leader.
The incoming chair of the DNC will need to prepare a credible election effort for the 2018 midterms, coming off a devastating loss in November's general election. 
 
The task will be that much harder because of the Senate election calendar, in which Democrats will defend 23 seats, plus the two independent seats that currently caucus with Democrats, while Republicans only have to defend eight. 
  
The candidates will debate each other on Jan. 18 at George Washington University.
 
The party will hold the election in late February.