Rep. Steny Hoyer, the Southern Maryland lawmaker and No. 2 Democrat in the House, said Wednesday he supports former U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez to lead the Democratic National Committee.
"The most important role of our next chair will be to rebuild our state and local parties so Democrats can compete up and down the ballot," Hoyer said in a statement when asked for his position on the DNC race by The Baltimore Sun. "I believe Tom is best equipped to deliver on that challenge.
Hoyer nodded to another leading contender in the race, Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, calling him "a good friend of mine and a very effective legislator who has worked hard to protect our middle class."
Hoyer is the second member of Maryland's mostly Democratic congressional delegation to back Perez, joining Sen. Ben Cardin. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Baltimore is supporting Ellison. The rest have not taken a position in the race.
Perez, Ellison and eight other candidates will appear in Baltimore on Saturday for a forum to discuss their vision for the party. Party insiders will choose their next DNC chairman -- and other party officials -- later this month.
A Takoma Park man, Perez briefly ran for Maryland attorney general in 2006, but was knocked off the ballot by the state's Court of Appeals, which held that he lacked the 10 years of legal experience in Maryland required by the state Constitution. He led the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department and the Labor Department under President Barack Obama.
Hoyer has also endorsed Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio to be the DNC's vice chairman.