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President Barack Obama is close to choosing Thomas Perez, currently the assistant U.S. attorney general for civil rights, to be his next labor secretary, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Perez has been in his current position since 2009. He has been secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, a member of the Montgomery County Council, director of the civil rights office at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under Bill Clinton, and a special counsel to Sen. Ted Kennedy. When Republicans held up Perez's nomination to his current role at the Justice Department, Adam Serwer wrote:
In short, Perez is something of a progressive's dream appointment—he's fought for minority and worker rights, stood up to the mortgage-lending industry when few others predicted how their unscrupulous practices would lead to economic disaster, and perhaps most important, he's a career civil-rights attorney who is familiar with how the civil-rights division is supposed to work—with an emphasis on the expertise of career attorneys, not the agendas of the political appointees who supervise them.
Perez hasn't focused his career primarily on labor issues, but someone with such a distinguished career of fighting for "those who are not at the table in our society," as one of his friends described it, isn't a bad sign as far as labor secretary nominations go.