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Monday, November 10, 2008

Dean Leaving DNC

George Wenschhof

It was reported today, Howard Dean, the chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), will step down. This will allow for an appointment favored by the incoming Obama administration.

Howard Dean will leave with mixed reactions from many Democratic Party officials. I met him back in 2002 and worked on his Maryland Presidential campaign in the 2004 election. We had the support so strong for him in Maryland that the eventual Democratic nominee, John Kerry did not even file delegates on the Maryland ballot. When Kerry won the nomination, the state had to assign delegates to him.

His use of the Internet in the 2004 Democratic primary really paved the way to the success enjoyed by the Obama campaign in this election. Dean also always supported a 50 state strategy, saying we just can not write states off for Democrats. As chair of the DNC, he was able to implement his 50 state strategy, placing paid DNC staff in states to operate field offices.

President-elect Obama and his campaign staff, led by David Plouffe advanced the use of the Internet to a even higher level in their successful effort. The 50-state strategy was also embraced by Obama and his campaign staff as states Missouri, Georgia and Montana all became competitive at the end of the campaign.

Interestingly, the incoming chief of staff to President-elect Obama and Dean clashed over his strategy while Emanuel was chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). Rahm Emanuel was used to the targeted state/race approach to picking up House seats and Dean argued Democrats needed to be competitive in all states. The disagreement was over how money was to be spent.

However, the Obama victory on November 4 showed how the 50 state strategy was effective as former Republican states Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana, Colorado, New Mexico, Florida and Ohio were all won by Obama.

The area that brought me the most disappointment in Dean's tenure as DNC chair was the decision to strip Michigan and Florida of their delegates for failing to abide to DNC sanctioned primary dates. I foresaw the potential problem with this as the action took place and was unfortunately correct in my assessment. I wrote about this issue earlier this year. You can read two of my columns here and here. He was also criticized for the lack of fundraising the DNC had done prior to Obama winning the Party nomination.

It will be interesting to see who replaces Howard Dean as chair of the DNC. Rumored names are Donna Brazile who was the chair of the 2000 Al Gore campaign and a couple of Governors, Tim Kaine (Va.), and Bill Richardson(NM). Other potential chairs could be chosen from Obama campaign state field operatives or maybe even David Plouffe. You can read more in the Washington Post "The Fix" with Chris Cillizza here.


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