Newly elected Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez gives a victory speech during the general session of the DNC winter meeting in Atlanta, Feb. 25, 2017.
Newly elected Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez gives a victory speech during the general session of the DNC winter meeting in Atlanta, Feb. 25, 2017.

WASHINGTON - U.S. President Donald Trump is mocking the opposition Democrats' election of former Labor Secretary Tom Perez as head of their national committee as the party tries to regroup from its devastating upset loss to Trump in November.

In comments on his Twitter account, the Republican Trump said he "could not be happier" for Perez, "or for the Republican party."

Trump claimed the race for the Democratic chairmanship "was, of course, totally rigged."

He compared Saturday's party contest to the race last year for the Democratic presidential nominating contest, in which former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ultimately prevailed over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the favorite of the more progressive wing of the Democratic party, before losing the presidential contest to Trump.

Trump said Sunday "Clinton demanded Perez" while "Bernie's guy, like Bernie himself, never had a chance."

Perez, with the support of former President Barack Obama whom he served under, won the intraparty Democratic contest over Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota on the second ballot, by a 235-200 margin.

Perez, the first Latino to hold the post, won in a contest widely seen as a proxy fight between Clinton and Sanders.

Immediately after the vote count, Perez moved to make Ellison the deputy party chairman, and DNC members ratified his choice.

"We are all in this together," Perez said, calling on Democrats to fight what he called "the worst president in the history of the United States."

A party in crisis

Earlier Saturday, Perez told the 474 DNC members that the party is "suffering from a crisis of confidence, a crisis of relevance." He also sought to define the tasks ahead as Democratic stalwarts push to regain the party's stature in the aftermath of Clinton's defeat.

"We need to make house calls, we need to listen to people. We need to get back to basics," he said.

Perez, considered the establishment pick and a political moderate, is the son of Dominican immigrants. Ellison, a progressive, was the first Muslim elected to Congress.

Ellison, endorsed by Sanders and his outspoken followers, said the Democrats are in “this mess because we lost not one election, but a thousand elections” — at all levels of government, from local councils to the White House — in November.
Grassroots movement

The new DNC chairman will oversee a party financially drained by the 2016 election, but one that has been energized this year by grassroots protests against President Trump and his policies. Notable among the protests was the nationwide Women's March on Washington on January 21, the day after Trump's inauguration, that produced one of the largest turnouts ever seen in the United States.

Protesters gather near the U.S. Capitol in Washing
FILE - Protesters gather near the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. for the Women' March, Jan. 21, 2017. (Photo: B. Allen / VOA)

Perez will also face the challenge of restoring party fortunes after heavy losses in the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections that produced the Republicans' current majority in both houses of Congress. He must also coordinate the development of potential candidates to challenge a Trump re-election bid in 2020.