Dean to Step Down as DNC Chair
By Chris Cillizza
Former Vermont governor Howard Dean, who rose to national prominence during a failed bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004, will not seek a second term as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, clearing the way for a loyalist of President-elect Barack Obama to be named to the soon to be vacant post.
The news of Dean's departure after a single four-year term in office was first reported by the Huffington Post's Sam Stein and confirmed by a Democratic Party source.
"At this point he has said that he doesn't intend to run again," said a DNC source granted anonymity in order to speak candidly. "He has said so publicly for a while. He has not said what he will do next."
Dean's tenure at the DNC has been marked by a sharp disconnect between the grassroots of the party and political operatives.
Grassroots -- and netroots -- activists, who propelled Dean's presidential bid and then helped get him elected as chair of the party in early 2004, love the former Vermont governor and credit his chairmanship of the DNC with the rebirth of the Democrats as a national party. (Dean's pioneering accomplishment during his four years in office is the 50-state strategy, a plan that put Democratic staff and organizations on the ground in every state in the country.)
Dean was not as well received among members of the permanent political class in Washington, many of whom dismissed him as a lightweight -- particularly on the fundraising front.
Dean, at times, clashed publicly with Democratic elected officials over his stewardship of the DNC -- particularly newly installed White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. Of one particularly contentious meeting in the spring of 2006, Tom Edsall wrote:
"Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), who is leading the party's effort to regain majority status in the House, stormed out of Dean's office several days ago leaving a trail of expletives, according to Democrats familiar with the session."
Over time, however, Dean did win over some skeptics to his side (former president Bill Clinton among them) thanks to a series of special election wins in conservative strongholds like northern Mississippi and Baton Rouge.
Posted at 2:08 PM ET on Nov 10, 2008
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