At Issue: Full interview with DNC Chair Tom Perez

Democrats hoping to unseat a sitting president will need to keep Minnesota blue in November and Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez says the party isn’t taking the state for granted.

In a one-on-one interview with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, Perez said Democrats have been laying the foundation to elect the party’s nominee – now Joe Biden – since its last nominee – Hillary Clinton – won the state by about 45,000 votes. President Donald Trump has visited Minnesota five times since winning the White House and his campaign has ramped up its efforts here.

Minnesota hasn’t voted for a Republican for president since Richard Nixon won in 1972.

"Our presence isn’t new," Perez said. "We’ve been on the ground for years. We’ve built relationships. And people in Minnesota want to know ‘who’s going to protect my health care? Who’s going to get us out of this pandemic?’"

At Issue coverage

"That choice is very clear. While we won’t take Minnesota for granted – and haven’t taken Minnesota for granted – we’re right on the issues, and I think Minnesotans get that."

The economy has become a major campaign issue as the coronavirus pandemic continues to keep some businesses shut down – or slowed to a crawl. Policing and the government’s response to protests – some which have turned violent – have also moved front-and-center, with both Trump and Biden visiting Kenosha, Wisconsin last week. But Perez believes voters aren’t happy with the Republican president’s handling of the coronavirus.

"The pandemic and his putrid response, his anemic response to the pandemic is hurting people. Loss of lives, loss of jobs," he said.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS also asked Perez to weigh-in on the U.S. Senate race between Democratic incumbent Tina Smith and Republican challenger Jason Lewis. Recent polls have shown Lewis gaining ground, in a near neck-and-neck race.

"Minnesotans don’t want a senator who’s going to do away with their coverage in health care, they don’t want a senator who’s a Trump apologist. That’s what her opponent is – a Trump apologist," he said. "They want leaders who will bring Minnesotans together."

Perez said the Democrats are also focusing their efforts on winning the 1st Congressional District against Rep. Jim Hagedorn and flipping the Minnesota Senate, where Republicans hold a two-seat majority.