AFSCME, largest employee union in state government, endorses Perez for governor

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Maryland’s largest state employee union endorsed former U.S. and Maryland Labor Secretary Tom Perez (D) for governor on Wednesday.

AFSCME Council 3 and AFSCME Council 67, which made the announcement in Baltimore, represent more than 50,000 state, county, municipal, school board, and higher education employees across Maryland.

Perez, a former Montgomery County councilman, was Maryland’s secretary of Labor from March 2007 to October 2009 and was U.S. secretary of Labor in the Obama administration from July 2013 to January 2017.

Much of Perez’s career was in the public sector. After law school at Harvard, Perez clerked for a federal judge in Colorado, was Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s top adviser on civil rights and criminal justice issues, steered the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and served as deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights — and years later, as assistant attorney general — of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.

Most recently, he was chairman of the Democratic National Committee, a term that ended after the 2020 election.

Earlier this year, Perez resigned from Venable, a law firm criticized by progressives for being anti-union, after he learned that the firm would represent Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) in his plans to cut federal unemployment insurance benefits early, describing Hogan’s position as “inconsistent with my values and the future I want to build for Maryland.”

Already this campaign cycle, Perez has touted endorsements from unions for communications and electrical workers, and from members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

In February, Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot garnered the endorsement of Mid-Atlantic Region of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), which represents more than 3,000 workers in Maryland and about 40,000 in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Franchot on Wednesday announced his pick for running mate: Prince George’s County Councilmember Monique Anderson-Walker (D).

The other Democratic hopefuls in the governor’s race are former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, nonprofit executive Jon Baron, former state Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, former Obama Administration official Ashwani K. Jain, former U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr., author and former anti-poverty CEO Wes Moore, and Baltimore tech entrepreneur Michael Rosenbaum.

The 2022 primary is June 28.

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