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Latinos Mention Tom Perez as Possible Replacement for Mikulski

Labor Secretary Tom Perez was the name bouncing around Latino political circles as a candidate who could replace Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.

Mikulski said Monday she would not run for re-election to the seat she has held since she was elected to it in 1986. Her current term runs through January 2017 and she plans to serve out the term.

It's early and would mean departing his Cabinet job, but Perez was the first name that came to mind for a few Latino political leaders asked about Latinos who could run for her seat. Others said a bid for the Maryland governor's office in 2018 was a greater possibility for him.

"Secretary Perez has an exceptional record of serving the people of Maryland, as a member of the Montgomery County Council and as (Maryland) Secretary of Labor," said Arturo Vargas, executive director of National Association of Latino and Elected Officials. "He has continued that service to the American people at the federal level, at the U.S. Department of Justice and now as (U.S.) Secretary of Labor."

Perez also taught law at University of Maryland and lives in the state.

Perez's office praised Mikulski in a statement but was not ready to talk about his interest in the seat.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., also recently announced her retirement, leading Latino groups to push for a Latino candidate to be considered by Democratic party officials for her seat. But the leading potential candidate Antonio Villaraigosa, former Los Angeles mayor, has said he won't run.


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--Suzanne Gamboa