Tom Perez Still Expects ‘in-person’ Democratic Convention

With the gathering of the Democratic National Convention set to begin next week, party Chairman Tom Perez says he isn’t worried about a lack of TV coverage for the event, despite Nevada setting a new record for the most expensive primary season in U.S. history.

He does, however, think the actual convention could be special.

“If we open doors, small business owners, entrepreneurs, small community leaders,” said Perez during a visit to the Greenville County Democratic Party headquarters in Greenville, South Carolina, last week. “Get a sense of the Democrats that are represented here in Greenville County — that’s real Democratic, that’s exciting.”

Some media reports have painted Democratic convention officials as concerned that the future national party platform would not be sympathetic to social issues like sexual orientation and gender identity, while others have characterized the party as feeling nervous about the costs of having party members pick up dinners in cities they are visiting.

“Is the platform going to reflect my party?” Perez was asked. “Yes. I don’t know all the internal debate going on between Hillary, Bernie, and their people and the campaigns, but that’s what I know. There’s going to be a debate at the convention on the platform, and I’m confident we’re going to reach consensus.”

He’s not worried about the costs of holding the convention, either.

“I said I’m not concerned about the $100 million that would have to be spent to have people travel to Las Vegas,” he said. “[That] doesn’t factor in the power, the excitement that comes from that … that I can’t have seen in my career in American politics, not one.”

And Perez isn’t worried about the political pressures being brought to bear by well-funded outside political groups.

“There is a financial reality, but there’s no financial reality in American politics today that can match the opportunity,” he said. “We have an extraordinary opportunity here. On Tuesday night we begin the first ever televised political rally in our history. We will know something special about our country in that moment.”

And with presidential candidates likely to end up doing many live interviews and speeches in the coming days, Perez isn’t too worried about seeing an unusual amount of sitting politicians.

“We’re expecting that we will be very well-represented,” he said. “That’s what we hope and pray for, that we will be fully represented and that we will be delivering the message that we intend to be delivering.”

He’s also confident that will happen.

“We are a grassroots party,” Perez said. “We are responsible not only for holding a convention but for holding our national convention. If Democrats don’t stand for something and deliver the message, who will? So the Democrats are going to show up — including the ones who are traveling.”

Ryan Medley is a freelance journalist based in Greenville, South Carolina. He is a former reporter at MSN and Washingtonian magazines. Follow him on Twitter and check out his music on SoundCloud.

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