ATLANTA - After a brutal election loss in November, Democrats will choose a new leader on Saturday to begin the daunting task of rebuilding the party and heading the political opposition to Republican President Donald Trump.
The 447 members of the Democratic National Committee, the administrative and fundraising arm of the party, will gather in Atlanta to pick a new chairman in one of the most crowded and competitive party leadership elections in decades.
The stakes are high for a party still struggling to recover from the surprising Nov. 8 loss of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and anxious to channel the growing grassroots resistance to Trump into political support for Democrats at all levels of government across the country.
Seven candidates are vying for the chairmanship, led by former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, a favorite of former Obama administration officials, and US Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota, backed by liberal leaders such as US Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Perez is the son of Dominican immigrants, while Ellison was the first Muslim elected to the US Congress.
The clash between candidates representing the establishment and progressive wings of the party echoes the bitter 2016 primary between Clinton and Sanders, a rift Democrats hope to put behind them as they turn their focus to fighting Trump.