A top Latino Democrat in Congress on Wednesday endorsed Secretary of Labor Tom Perez for attorney general.
“It sounds pretty good, Attorney General Perez,” Rep. Xavier Becerra (Calif.) said while introducing Perez at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s policy conference in Washington.
Perez, the son of Dominican immigrants, is reportedly on the short list to become the nation’s top lawyer following the departure of Attorney General Eric Holder. Becerra is one of the highest-ranking officials in the Democratic Party to publicly back Perez.
The labor secretary's name is being floated at a time when Hispanic advocates are frustrated with President Obama for delaying action on immigration reform.
Perez would not comment on Becerra’s endorsement following his speech.
“My focus is on the Department of Labor,” he told reporters.
Before being tapped to head the Department of Labor, Perez ran the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, where he oversaw the federal government's lawsuit against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and worked on court cases challenging immigration enforcement laws in Arizona and Alabama.
In backing Perez, Becerra cited Perez’s close relationship with Obama since becoming labor secretary and his work on civil rights.
Perez could face a tough confirmation battle in Congress if Obama nominates him. Republicans have long opposed the 52-year-old lawyer, who they believe is too partisan to hold the attorney general post.
The list of potential Holder replacements also includes California Attorney General Kamala Harris, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D).
Jordan Fabian is Fusion's politics editor, writing about campaigns, Congress, immigration, and more. When he's not working, you can find him at the ice rink or at home with his wife, Melissa.