Thomas E. Perez, who is being considered for U.S. attorney general, was endorsed Tuesday for the top law enforcement job by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
The current U.S. labor secretary, a 52-year-old Takoma Park resident and the son of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, is one of three Hispanics in President Barack Obama's Cabinet.
"Secretary Perez has a proven record of championing and defending the rights of all Americans," the caucus chairman, Rep. Rubén Hinojosa of Texas, said in a statement. "We hope Secretary Perez will be the president's nominee of choice to head the Department of Justice."
Perez, a former Maryland labor secretary, is emerging as a candidate in part because of his extensive legal background -- he previously led the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division -- but also because he has a close relationship with the president, supporters said.
Former White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler, who had been considered a leading candidate for the job, withdrew her name from consideration last week. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus endorsement was first reported by Politico.
Asked about the endorsement, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Tuesday that "there's no doubt that Secretary Perez has distinguished himself as a particularly effective member of the president's Cabinet" but he declined to say whether Perez has emerged as the leading candidate.
A Perez nomination would draw fire from Senate Republicans, who unanimously opposed his confirmation to head the Labor Department last year. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell referred to him at the time as a "crusading ideologue," and Perez was confirmed only as part of a broader deal to avoid wholesale change to Senate rules.