Former Labor Secretary Tom Perez is claiming 180 Democratic National Committee members are supporting his bid for chairman, a number that would put him within striking distance of the 224 votes needed.
Perez announced the haul in an email to DNC members Tuesday afternoon, and the number far surpasses his public list of endorsements. The email included various statements of support from members including Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Ohio Democratic Party chairman David Pepper.
"To win states like Ohio, Democrats must have a leader who can rebuild our party, reach out to our bigtent and refocus our message on creating real economic opportunity for Americans in rural counties, small cities and our urban centers. Tom Perez can do just that," Pepper said in the statement.
But allies of Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, Perez's top opponent, are claiming that he is closing in on the requisite votes too. With seven major candidates all vying for the spot, that means next weekend's vote in Atlanta could take multiple ballots, which could launch the race to uncertainty.
"With many strong candidates in the race, we believe that DNC members deserve the respect to make this hard decision without unverifiable public whip counts designed to put a finger on the scale," Ellison campaign manager Jamie Long said in a statement.
"We have by far the most public support in the race, including dozens of state party chairs and vice chairs, five complete state delegations, and numerous elected officials who serve on the DNC. Most of our supporters prefer to remain private and we respect that. We will not be releasing our full whip count, but we are on track to win next week and we are confident that we will."
Politico first reported Perez's email to voting members.
Perez and Ellison are part of the seven-person field of candidates looking to lead the party after a disastrous 2016: South Carolina Party Chairman Jaime Harrison, New Hampshire Party Chairman Raymond Buckley, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Idaho Party Executive Director Sally Boynton Brown and former Fox News pundit Jehmu Greene are also running.