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Politics

DNC Chair Tom Perez 'bullish' about party's ability to take back House




Newly elected Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez gives a victory speech during the general session of the DNC winter meeting in Atlanta, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017. Perez picked runner-up Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn, to be deputy chairman. (AP Photo/Branden Camp)
Newly elected Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez gives a victory speech during the general session of the DNC winter meeting in Atlanta, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017. Perez picked runner-up Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn, to be deputy chairman. (AP Photo/Branden Camp)
Branden Camp/AP

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Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez is in California, gearing up to speak at the state party's convention in Sacramento. 

Before his big speech, Perez talked to Take Two about the DNC's approach. It includes a summer program to train newly energized Democrats how to organize politically. It's one way the party hopes to win more down-ballot races in 2018. 

Highlights

I've read story after story about how California is the key to the Democrats' hope of taking back the House of Representatives. How important is California when it comes to winning the House in 2018?

I think we can pick up a number of seats in California: Dana Rohrabacher, Mimi Walters... Darrell Issa is another example of someone who barely squeaked by before, and now he's doing the same-old, same-old. He's not really in touch with his constituents. 

It's not just Democrats who have pre-existing conditions. That's why we're going to be very, very active here. I'm very bullish about the opportunities to take over the House of Representatives in 2018 and the Senate for that matter. 

What is the national party structure doing to make some of the things you mentioned happen?

We're working hand-in-glove with our colleagues who help elect people in the House and in the Senate, making sure that we're coordinating on sending organizers out. I firmly believe that a big part of what we have to do as Democrats is make more house calls, be present in communities —not just in the two-month run-up to the election, but 12 months a year. 

This summer, for instance, we're rolling out what we're calling a Resistance Summer, and we're not doing it alone: We're doing it in partnership with so many allies in the labor movement and the progressive community. Our goal is to make house calls across America, to knock on doors, to have virtual house parties so that we are listening and learning from voters about what is keeping them up at night and being very clear about what we stand for. 

Press the blue play button above to hear the full interview.