POLITICS

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said to be front-runner for Attorney General post

President Barack Obama talks with his nominee for Labor Secretary, Thomas E. Perez, during an announcement, Monday, March 18, 2013, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

President Barack Obama talks with his nominee for Labor Secretary, Thomas E. Perez, during an announcement, Monday, March 18, 2013, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

President Barack Obama may not be going any further than the White House in his search for a successor to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who recently announced his resignation.

The front-runner for the job appears to be U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez, according to The New York Times.

Holder, America's first black attorney general and an unflinching champion of civil rights who had come under increasing scrutiny, announced his resignation after leading the Justice Department since the first days of Obama's term. He is the fourth-longest-serving attorney general in U.S. history.

Holder said he would remain in his post until a replacement is confirmed.

Perez, who is 53 and is the son of Dominican immigrants, had been considered by political observers an ideal nominee, given his background as a Justice Department civil rights official.

The New York Times reported that Obama may announce his choice for attorney general before the Nov. 4 election.

Citing only “people familiar with the administration’s planning,” The New York Times said Perez is at the top of the list.

The Times added that “no final decision has been made,” however, and that other candidates such as Loretta E. Lynch, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Kathryn Ruemmler, the former White House counsel, are still potential nominees.

Democrats have praised Thomas as an aggressive advocate of voting and civil rights laws. Many Latino organizations lauded his confirmation as labor secretary in the summer of 2013, saying he had been a dedicated public servant and had acted in the best interests of Latinos and other minorities.

But Republicans considered Perez too liberal and ideological. GOP senators suggested that politics has guided his decisions about enforcing voting rights laws and have accused him of supporting efforts to sidestep federal immigration laws when he was a local government official in Maryland.

"Tom Perez is more than just some left-wing ideologue — he's a left-wing ideologue who appears perfectly willing to bend the rules to achieve his ends," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, last year.

“This is reflective not of some passionate left-winger who views himself as patiently advancing policies within the bounds of a democratic system but as a crusading ideologue whose convictions lead him to believe that the law simply doesn’t apply to him.”

After Holder announced his resignation, Senate Republicans signaled they were preparing for a confirmation fight after years of battles with him. 

McConnell warned: "I will be scrutinizing the president's replacement nominee to ensure the Justice Department finally returns to prioritizing law enforcement over partisan concerns."

The New York Times noted that Democrats could act on the nomination through in a lame-duck session on a simple majority vote in the Senate.

“The fact that Mr. Perez went through the confirmation process and extensive background check as recently as last year is also an advantage,” The Times said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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