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Howard Dean

Howard Brush Dean III, (born November 17, 1948) is an American politician and physician from the U.S. state of Vermont, and currently the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, the central organization of the Democratic Party at the national level. Before entering politics, Dean received his medical degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1978. Dean was elected to the Vermont House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1982 and was elected lieutenant governor in 1986. Both were part-time positions that enabled him to continue practicing medicine. In 1991, Dean became Governor of Vermont when Richard A. Snelling died in office. Dean was subsequently elected to five two-year terms, serving as governor from 1991 to 2003, making him the second longest-serving Governor in Vermont history, after Thomas Chittenden (1778–1789 and 1790–1797). Dean served as chairman of the National Governors Association from 1994 to 1995; during his term, Vermont paid off much of its public debt and had a balanced budget 11 times, lowering income taxes twice. Dean also oversaw the expansion of the "Dr. Dynasaur" program, which ensures universal health care for children and pregnant women in the state.

An early front-runner in the 2004 Democratic Presidential nomination, Dean denounced the 2003 invasion of Iraq and called on Democrats to more strongly oppose the Bush Administration. Dean showed strong fundraising ability, and was a pioneer of political fundraising via the internet; however, he eventually lost the nomination to Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. Dean formed the organization Democracy for America and later was elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee in February 2005.

Early life and education

East Hampton and New York City childhood

Dean was born in East Hampton, New York, to Howard Brush Dean, Jr. and Andrée Belden Maitland, an art appraiser. He is the oldest of their four children, all boys.

Howard's father worked at Dean Witter; the family was quite wealthy, Republican, and belonged to the exclusive Maidstone Golf Club in East Hampton. As a child he spent much of his time growing up in East Hampton; the family built a house on Hook Pond there in the mid-1950s. There the boys Howard, Charlie, Jim and Bill "rode bikes, played with a model train set, [and] built elaborate underground forts." While in New York, the family had a three-bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side part of Park Avenue, where Dean still sometimes stays.

Howard attended the Browning School in Manhattan until he was 13, then went to St. George's School, a preparatory school in Middletown, Rhode Island. In September 1966, he attended Felsted School, UK for one school year after winning an English Speaking Union scholarship.

Political opponents have been reluctant to seize upon Dean's privileged early life. UPI quoted one of Dean's friends in his youth as saying "By Hamptons standards, the Deans were not rich. No safaris in Africa or chalets in Switzerland. Howard's father went to work every day. He didn't own a company, or have a father or grandfather who founded one, as mine did. Peggy Noonan wrote in the Wall Street Journal that "he doesn't seem like a WASP. I know it's not nice to deal in stereotypes, but there seems very little Thurston Howell, III, or George Bush, the elder, for that matter, in Mr. Dean...He seems unpolished, doesn't hide his aggression, is proudly pugnacious. He doesn't look or act the part of the WASP...It will be harder for Republicans to tag Mr. Dean as Son of the Maidstone Club than it was for Democrats to tag Bush One as Heir to Greenwich Country Day. He just doesn't act the part.

The Yale Years

Dean attended Yale University. As a freshman, he requested specifically to room with an African-American. The university housing office complied and Dean roomed with two Southern black students and one white student from Pennsylvania. One of Dean's roommates was Ralph Dawson, the son of a sheet metal worker in Charleston, South Carolina and today a New York City labor lawyer. Dawson said of Dean:
Unless you operated from a stereotypic understanding of the Yale white boy as rich, you wouldn't know that about Howard...When it came to race and I don't know whether this was a function of intent or just came naturally Howard was not patronizing in any way. He was willing to confront in discussion what a lot of white students weren't. He would hold his ground. He would respect that I knew forty-two million times more about being black than he did. But that didn't mean he couldn't hold a view on something relating to civil rights that would be as valid as mine. There were lots of well-meaning people at Yale who wanted you to understand that they understood your plight; you'd get into a conversation and they would yield too soon, so we didn't get the full benefit of the exchange. Howard very much thought he was capable of working an issue through. He was inquisitive. And when he came to a conclusion he would be as strong as anybody else. I don't think he's stubborn. He's a guy who's always been comfortable in his own skin. That's something you still see in him today, and it gets him into some degree of controversy.
At Yale, Dean was a member of the Zeta Psi fraternity. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in political science in 1971.

Though eventually eligible to be drafted into the military, he received a deferment for an unfused vertebra.He spent the next year skiing in Colorado as he explained to Tim Russert on MTP, " I was really in no hurry to join the military" . He briefly tried a career as a stock broker before deciding on a career in medicine, completing pre-medicine classes at Columbia University. In 1974, Dean's younger brother Charlie, who had been traveling through southeast Asia at the time, was captured and killed by Laotian guerrillas, a tragedy widely reported to have an enormous influence in Dean's life; he wore his brother's belt every day of his presidential campaign.

The move to Vermont as a doctor

Dean received his medical degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in 1978 and began a medical residency at the University of Vermont. In 1981, he married fellow doctor Judith Steinberg, whom he met in medical school, and together they began a family medical practice in Burlington, Vermont (where she continued to use her maiden name to avoid confusion).

Personal life

Dean has kept an unusually strict separation between his political career and his personal life. His wife, who has continued practicing medicine, mostly stayed out of the limelight during his presidential campaign, giving few interviews and not traveling with her husband on the campaign trail until the final days in Iowa and New Hampshire. She maintained that if her husband were elected president, she would continue practicing medicine and forgo many of the traditional activities of the First Lady. She had shunned the limelight of the campaign until Dean's later much-publicized "scream" gaffe. Dean brought her out for a lengthy sit-down network interview, where she dismissed the "scream" as silly.

Though he was raised an Episcopalian, Dean joined the United Church of Christ in 1982 after a dispute with the local Episcopal diocese over a bike trail (see below). By his own account, he does not attend church "very often"; at one point, when asked to name his favorite book in the New Testament, he offered the Old Testament Book of Job, then corrected himself an hour later. Dean has stated he is more "spiritual" than religious. He and his wife have raised their two children, Anne and Paul, in Judaism.

A personal finance statement filed for his presidential campaign put the couple's net worth between US$2.2 and $5 million.

Vermont political career

In 1980, Dean spearheaded a grassroots campaign to stop a condominium development on Lake Champlain, instead favoring the construction of a bicycle trail. The effort succeeded, and helped launch his political career. That same year, he was also a volunteer for Jimmy Carter's re-election campaign. In 1982, he was elected to the Vermont House of Representatives, where he remained until being elected lieutenant governor in 1986. Both were part-time positions which enabled him to continue practicing medicine.

On August 14, 1991, Dean was examining a patient when he received word that then-Governor Richard A. Snelling had died of a heart attack while Snelling was cleaning his own swimming pool. Dean assumed the office, which he called the "greatest job in Vermont." He was subsequently elected to five two-year terms in his own right, making him the second longest-serving governor in Vermont's history. From 1994 to 1995, Dean was the chairman of the National Governors Association.

Dean was faced with an economic recession and a $60 million budget deficit. He bucked many in his own party to immediately push for a balanced budget (Vermont is the only state whose constitution does not require one), an act which marked the beginning of a record of fiscal restraint. During his tenure as governor, the state paid off much of its debt, balanced its budget eleven times, raised its bond rating, and lowered income taxes twice.

Dean also focused on health care issues, most notably through the "Dr. Dynasaur" program, which ensures near-universal health coverage for children and pregnant women in the state; the uninsured rate in Vermont dropped from 12.7% to 9.6% under his watch. Child abuse and teen pregnancy rates were cut roughly in half.

By far the most controversial decision of his career, and the first to draw serious national attention came in 2000, when the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that the state's marriage laws unconstitutionally excluded same-sex couples and ordered that the state legislature either allow gays and lesbians to marry or create a parallel status. Facing calls to amend the state constitution to prohibit either option, Dean chose to support the latter one, and signed the nation's first civil unions legislation into law, spurring a short-lived "Take Back Vermont" movement which helped Republicans gain control of the State House.

Dean would receive some criticism during his 2004 presidential campaign for another decision related to civil unions. Shortly before leaving office, he had some of his Vermont papers sealed for at least the next decade, a timeframe longer than most outgoing governors use. He claimed he was protecting the privacy of many gay supporters who sent him personal letters about the issue. On the campaign trail, he demanded that Vice President Dick Cheney release his energy committee papers. Many people, including then-Democratic Senator and failed 2004 presidential candidate Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, who left the party after losing his primary for re-election in 2006, accused Dean of hypocrisy. Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit to force the papers be opened before the seal expired, but lost.

As governor, Dean was endorsed by the National Rifle Association several times, furthering his moderate image; though he is not a member of the NRA.

2004 presidential candidacy

Dean began his bid for President as a "long shot" candidate. ABC News ranked him eighth out of 12 in a list of potential presidential contenders in May 2002. In March 2003 he gave a Howard Dean's speech of March 15, 2003 strongly critical of the Democratic leadership at the California State Democratic Convention that attracted the attention of grassroots party activists and set the tone and the agenda of his candidacy. It began with the line: "What I want to know is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting the President's unilateral intervention in Iraq?

That summer, his campaign was featured as the cover article in The New Republic and in the following months he received expanded media attention. His campaign slowly gained steam, and by autumn of 2003, Dean had become the apparent frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, performing strongly in most polls and outpacing his rivals in fundraising. This latter feat was attributed mainly to his innovative embrace of the Internet for campaigning, and the majority of his donations came from individual Dean supporters, who came to be known as Deanites, or, more commonly, Deaniacs. (Critics often labeled them "Deany Boppers", or "Deanie Babies", a reference to his support from young activists.)

During his presidential campaign, conservative critics labeled Dean's political views as those of an extreme liberal. Many left-wing critics who supported fellow Democrat Dennis Kucinich or independent Ralph Nader charged that, at heart, Dean was a "Rockefeller Republican" socially liberal, while fiscally conservative.

Message and themes

Dean began his campaign by emphasizing health care and fiscal responsibility, and championing grassroots fundraising as a way to fight special interests. However, his opposition to the U.S. plan to invade Iraq (and his forceful criticism of Democrats in Congress who voted to authorize the use of force) quickly eclipsed other issues. By challenging the war in Iraq at a time when mainstream Democratic leaders were either neutral or cautiously supportive, Dean positioned himself to appeal to his party's activist base. Dean often quoted the late Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone (who had recently died in a plane crash) as saying that he represented "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party". His message resonated among frustrated Democratic primary voters who felt that their party hadn't done enough to oppose the policies of the Republicans. Thus, Dean also succeeded in differentiating himself from his primary opponents.

Dean's approach organizationally was also novel. His campaign made extensive use of the Internet, pioneering techniques that were subsequently adopted by politicians of all political persuasions. His supporters organized real-world meetings, many of them arranged through Meetup.com, participated in online forums, donated money online, canvassed for advertising ideas, and distributed political talking points. In terms of money, publicity and activism, Dean therefore quickly staked out a leadership position in the field of candidates. In this way, he was able to bypass existing party and activist infrastructure and built his own online network of supporters. In terms of traditional "ground troops", however, Dean remained at a disadvantage. Dean adopted a coffee shop strategy to visit grassroot activists in all 99 Iowa counties, but he lacked the campaign infrastructure to get voters to the polls that his opponents had.

Fundraising

In the "invisible primary" of raising campaign dollars, Howard Dean led the Democratic pack in the early stages of the 2004 campaign. Among the candidates, he ranked first in total raised ($25.4 million as of September 30, 2003) and first in cash-on-hand ($12.4 million). However, even this performance paled next to that of George W. Bush, who by that date had raised $84.6 million for the Republican primary campaign, in which he had no real challenger. Prior to the 2004 primary season, the Democratic record for most money raised in one quarter by a primary candidate was held by Bill Clinton in 1995, raising $10.3 million during a campaign in which he had no primary opponent. In the third quarter of 2003, the Dean campaign raised $14.8 million, shattering Clinton's record. All told, Dean's campaign raised around $50 million.

While presidential campaigns have traditionally obtained finance by tapping wealthy, established political donors, Dean's funds came largely in small donations over the Internet; the average overall donation size was just under $80. This method of fundraising offered several important advantages over traditional fundraising, in addition to the inherent media interest in what was then a novelty. First, raising money on the Internet was relatively inexpensive, compared to conventional methods such as events, telemarketing, and direct mail campaigns. Secondly, as donors on average contributed far less than the legal limit ($2,000 per individual), the campaign could continue to resolicit them throughout the election season.

Dean's director of grassroots fundraising, Larry Biddle, came up with the idea of the popular fundraising "bat", an image of a cartoon baseball player and bat which appeared on the site every time the campaign launched a fundraising challenge. The bat encouraged Web site visitors to contribute money immediately through their credit cards. This would lead to the bat filling up like a thermometer with the red color indicating the total funds. The site often took suggestions from the netroots on their blog. One of these suggestions led to one of the campaigns biggest accomplishments an image of Dean eating a turkey sandwich encouraged supporters to donate $250,000 in three days to match a big-donor dinner by Vice President Dick Cheney. The online contributions from that day matched what Cheney made from his fundraiser.

In November 2003, after a much-publicized online vote among his followers, Dean became the first Democrat to forgo federal matching funds (and the spending limits that go with them) since the system was established in 1974. (John Kerry later followed his lead.) In addition to state-by-state spending limits for the primaries, the system limits a candidate to spending only $44.6 million until the Democratic National Convention in July, which sum would almost certainly run out soon after the early primary season. (George W. Bush declined federal matching funds in 2000 and did so again for the 2004 campaign.)

In a sign that the Dean campaign was starting to think beyond the primaries, they began in late 2003 to speak of a "$100 revolution" in which 2 million Americans would give $100 in order to compete with Bush.

Political commentators have claimed that the fundraising of presidential candidate Barack Obama, with its emphasis on small donors and the internet, has refined and built upon on the model that Dean's campaign pioneered.

Endorsements

Though Dean lagged in early endorsements, he acquired many critical ones as his campaign snowballed. By the time of the Iowa caucuses, he led among commitments from superdelegates elected officials and party officers entitled to convention votes by virtue of their positions. On November 12, 2003, he received the endorsements of the Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Dean received the endorsement of former Vice President and presidential candidate Al Gore, on December 9, 2003. In the following weeks Dean was endorsed by former U.S. senators Bill Bradley and Carol Moseley Braun, unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidates from the 2000 and 2004 primaries, respectively.

Other high-profile endorsers included:

Several celebrities from the entertainment industry also endorsed him, including Martin Sheen, Rob Reiner, Susan Sarandon, Paul Newman, Robin Williams, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Response

Many pundits would blame such endorsements for the campaign's eventual collapse. In particular, Al Gore's early endorsement of Dean weeks before the first primary of the election cycle was severely criticized by eight Democratic contenders particularly since he did not endorse his former running mate, Joe Lieberman. Gore supported Dean over Lieberman due to their differing opinions on Iraq which began to develop around 2002 (Lieberman supported the war and Gore did not). When Dean's campaign failed, some attributed Gore's early endorsement.

Iowa results and the "Dean Scream"

On January 19, 2004, Dean's campaign suffered a blow when a last-minute surge by rivals John Kerry and John Edwards led to a disappointing third-place finish for Dean in the 2004 Iowa Democratic caucuses, representing the first votes cast in primary season. Dean had been a strong contender for weeks in advance in that state, battling with Dick Gephardt for first place in the polls; Gephardt finished fourth. Since Dean had spent months leading Iowa tracking polls, his third-place finish was widely considered a sign that the campaign was losing momentum. Experts attributed Dean's fall in Iowa to a number of factors, including a disorganized ground operation, a bitter fight with Dick Gephardt's campaign, and negative media attention culminating in a years-old television clip of Dean severely criticizing the caucus process that was widely broadcast in Iowa shortly before the caucus was held.

Dean, who had been suffering with a severe bout of the flu for several days, attended a post-caucus rally for his volunteers at the Val-Air Ballroom in West Des Moines, Iowa and delivered his concession speech, aimed at cheering up those in attendance. Dean was shouting over the cheers of his enthusiastic audience, but the crowd noise was being filtered out by his unidirectional microphone, leaving only his full-throated exhortations audible to the television viewers. To those at home, he seemed to raise his voice out of sheer emotion. Additionally, Dean began his speech with a flushed-red face, clenching his teeth as he rolled up his sleeves.

According to a Newsday Editorial written by Verne Gay, some members of the television audience criticized the speech as loud, peculiar, and unpresidential. In particular, this quote from the speech was aired repeatedly in the days following the caucus:

Not only are we going to New Hampshire, Tom Harkin, we're going to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico, and we're going to California and Texas and New York ... And we're going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan, and then we're going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House! Yeah!

Senator Harkin was on stage with Dean, holding his suit jacket. This final "Yeah!", with its unusual tone that Dean later said was due to the cracking of his hoarse voice, has become known in American political jargon as the "Dean Scream".

Dean conceded that the speech did not project the best image, jokingly referring to it as a "crazy, red-faced rant" on the Late Show with David Letterman. In an interview later that week with Diane Sawyer, he said he was "a little sheepish ... but I'm not apologetic". Sawyer and many others in the national broadcast news media later expressed some regret about overplaying the story. In fact, CNN issued a public apology and admitted in a statement that they indeed may have "overplayed" the incident. The incessant replaying of the "Dean Scream" by the press became a debate on the topic of whether Dean was the victim of media bias. The scream scene was shown an estimated 633 times by cable and broadcast news networks in just four days following the incident, a number that does not include talk shows and local news broadcasts. However, those who were in the actual audience that day insist that they were not aware of the infamous "scream" until they returned to their hotel rooms and saw it on TV. Dean said after the general election in 2004 that his microphone only picked up his voice and did not also capture the loud cheering he received from the audience as a result of the speech. On January 27, 2004 Dean again suffered a defeat, finishing second to Kerry in the New Hampshire primary. As late as one week before the first votes were cast in Iowa's caucuses, Dean had enjoyed a 30% lead in New Hampshire opinion polls; accordingly, this loss represented another major setback to his campaign.

Iowa and New Hampshire were only the first in a string of losses for the Dean campaign, culminating in a third place showing in the Wisconsin primary on February 17, 2004. Two days before the Wisconsin primary, campaign advisor Steve Grossman "announced" through an article written by The New York Times Dean campaign correspondent Jodi Wilgoren that he would offer his services to any of the other major candidates "should Dean not win in Wisconsin". This "scoop" further undermined Dean's campaign. Grossman later issued a public apology. The next day, Dean announced that his candidacy had "come to an end", though he continued to urge people to vote for him, so that Dean delegates would be selected for the convention and could influence the party platform. He later won the Vermont primaries on Super Tuesday, March 2, 2004. This latter victory, a surprise even to Dean, was due in part to the lack of a serious anti-Kerry candidate in Vermont (John Edwards had declined to put his name on the state's ballot, expecting Dean to win in a landslide), and in part to a television ad produced, funded, and aired in Vermont by grassroots Dean supporters.

Impact

While his presidential bid ultimately ended in failure, Dean's campaign served to frame the White House race by tapping in to voters' concerns about the war in Iraq, energizing Democrats, and sharpening criticism of incumbent George W. Bush. The New York Observer attributes Barack Obama's success in the 2008 US Presidential Election by perfecting the internet organizing model that Dean pioneered.

On October 11, 2007 it was reported that Leonardo DiCaprio and George Clooney were in early talks about making a "political thriller" based on Howard Dean's 2004 campaign, tentatively titled Farragut North. The movie is based on a play of the same name, which is also the name of a Washington Metro station, by former Dean communications director Beau Wilmon. Wilmon went on to work as traveling press secretary for Hillary Clinton during her 2008 presidential campaign.

Campaign timeline

  • May 31, 2002 Files paperwork to run for 2004 presidential election
  • March 2003 Campaign signs deal with Meetup.com to integrate Meetup functionality directly into the main page of the campaign website
  • June 23, 2003 Formally announced candidacy for President in 2004
  • November 8, 2003 Announces intention to forgo federal campaign financing (and hence primary spending limit), following online vote of supporters
  • December 9, 2003 Receives endorsement from former Vice President Al Gore, angering former Gore running mate Joe Lieberman
  • January 6, 2004 Receives endorsement from Bill Bradley, former US senator and Gore's rival for the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 2000
  • January 15, 2004 Carol Moseley Braun drops out of the race and announces her support for Dean, saying that "Governor Dean is the candidate best-equipped to bring Americans together, to renew our country, and restore our privacy, our liberty and our economic security."
  • January 19, 2004 "Dean Scream" after Iowa Caucus
  • January 28, 2004 Appoints Roy Neel as CEO of his campaign, essentially replacing campaign manager Joe Trippi. Trippi resigns after being offered a lesser position
  • February 18, 2004 Dean ends his campaign for president after coming in a distant 3rd place in the Wisconsin primary on February 17, 2004
  • March 2, 2004 Dean wins a primary in his home state of Vermont
  • March 18, 2004 Dean launches Democracy for America, an advocacy group dedicated to returning political power to the community level
  • March 25, 2004 Dean endorses John Kerry

See also U.S. Democratic Party presidential nomination, 2004, U.S. presidential election, 2004 timeline.

Post-campaign and Democracy for America

Following Dean's withdrawal after the Wisconsin primary, he pledged to support the eventual Democratic nominee. Though many supporters encouraged him to support the only remaining "non-establishment candidate," John Edwards, he remained neutral until John Kerry became the presumptive nominee. Dean endorsed Kerry on March 25, 2004, in a speech at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

On March 18, 2004, Dean founded the group Democracy for America. This group was created to house the large, Internet-based organization Dean created for his presidential campaign. Its goal is to help like-minded candidates get elected to local, state and federal offices. It has endorsed several sets of twelve candidates known as the Dean Dozen. Dean turned over control of the organization to his brother, Jim Dean, when he became Chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Dean strongly urged his supporters to support Kerry as opposed to Ralph Nader, arguing that a vote for Nader would only help to re-elect President Bush because he believed that most who vote for Nader are likely to have voted for Kerry if Ralph Nader was not running. Dean argued that Nader would be more effective if he lobbied on election law reform issues during his campaign. Dean supported several election law reform issues such as campaign finance reform, and Instant Runoff Voting.

Tenure as DNC Chair

Dean was elected Chairman of the Democratic National Committee on February 12, 2005, after all his opponents dropped out of the race when it became apparent Dean had the votes to become Chair. Those opponents included former Congressman Martin Frost, former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, former Congressman and 9/11 Commissioner Tim Roemer, and strategists Donnie Fowler, David Leland, and Simon Rosenberg. Other prominent Democrats considered running but ultimately declined.

Many prominent Democrats opposed Dean's campaign; House Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Leader Harry Reid are rumored to be among them. Dean satisfied his critics by promising to focus on fundraising and campaigning as DNC Chair, and avoid policy statements.

50-state strategy

After Dean became Chairman of the DNC, he pledged to bring reform to the Party. Rather than focusing just on 'swing states,' Dean proposed what has come to be known as the 50-State Strategy. The goal, the DNC says, is for the Democratic Party to be committed to winning elections at every level in every region of the country, with Democrats organized in every single voting precinct in the country. State party chairs have lauded Dean for raising money directly for the individual state parties.

Dean's strategy uses a post-Watergate model taken from the Republicans of the mid-seventies. Working at the local, state and national level, the GOP built the party from the ground up. Dean's plan is to seed the local level with young and committed candidates, building them into state candidates in future races. Dean has traveled extensively throughout the country with the plan, including places like Utah, Mississippi, and Texas, states in which Republicans have dominated the political landscape. Many establishment Democrats were at least initially dubious about the strategy's worth--political consultant and former Bill Clinton advisor Paul Begala suggested that Dean's plan was "just hiring a bunch of staff people to wander around Utah and Mississippi and pick their nose.

Further changes have been made in attempting to make the stated platform of the Democratic Party more coherent and compact. Overhauling the website, the official platform of the 2004 campaign, which was largely criticized as avoiding key issues and being the product of party insiders, was replaced with a simplified, though comprehensive categorizing of positions on a wide range of issues. This strategy paid off in a historic victory as the Democrats took over control of the House of Representatives and the Senate in the 2006 mid-term elections. While it is likely this is also attributable to the shortcomings of the Republican Party in their dealings with the Iraq War and the scandals that occurred shortly before the election, Dean's emphasis on connecting with socially conservative, economic moderates in previous Republican states appears to have made some impact. Indeed, Democratic candidates won elections in such red states as Kansas, Indiana, and Montana. And while former Clinton strategist James Carville criticized Dean's efforts, saying more seats could have been won with the traditional plan of piling money solely into close races, the results and the strategy were met with tremendous approval by the party's executive committee in its December meeting.

The 50-state strategy relies on the idea that building the Democratic Party is at once an incremental election by election process as well as a long-term vision in party building. Democrats cannot compete in counties in which they do not field candidates. Therefore, candidate recruitment has emerged as a component element of the 50-state strategy.

To build the party, the DNC works in partnership with state Democratic parties in bringing the resources of the DNC to bear in electoral efforts, voter registration, candidate recruitment and other interlocking component elements of party building. Decentralization is also a core component of the party's approach. The idea is that each state party has unique needs, but can improve upon its efforts through the distribution of resources from the national party.

The 50-state strategy has been acknowledged by political commentators as an important factor in allowing Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential contest to compete against John McCain in traditionally red states.

Fundraising strategies

Through grassroots fundraising Howard Dean has been able to raise millions more than the previous DNC Chairman at the same point after the 2000 election. Dean has raised the most money by any DNC Chairman in a similar post election period. This was especially apparent when the Federal Election Commission reported that the DNC had raised roughly $86.3 million in the first six months of 2005, an increase of over 50% on the amount raised during the same period of 2003. In comparison, the RNC fundraising activities represented a gain of only 2%. Additional attempts to capitalize on this trend was the introduction of "Democracy Bonds", a program under which small donors would give a set amount every month. Although it only reached over 31,000 donors by May 2006, far off-pace from the stated goal of 1 million by 2008, it has, nonetheless, contributed considerably to the funding of the DNC. Dean has continued to further develop online fundraising at the DNC. Just one month before Election Day 2006, he became the first to introduce the concept of a "grassroots match," where donors to the DNC pledged to match the first donation made by a new contributor. The DNC claims that the resulting flood of contributions led to 10,000 first-time donors in just a few days.

Electoral history

Dean has run for office at the state and federal level.
Year Office

Incumbent Party Votes Pct

Challenger Party Votes Pct

3rd Party Party Votes Pct
1982 VT House Howard Dean Democratic 596 66.4% Timothy K. McKenzie Citizens 300 33.4%
1984 VT House Howard Dean Democratic 1092 98.9%
1986 Lt. Gov. Susan Auld Republican 84,413 44.4% Howard Dean Democratic 99,929 52.5%
1988 Lt. Gov. Howard Dean Democratic 154,660 66.5% Pan B. Zolotas Republican 69,731 30.0% Lisa Steckler Liberty Union 7,952 3.4%
1990 Lt. Gov. Howard Dean Democratic 120,956 58.1% Michael Bernhardt Republican 80,706 38.7%
1992 Gov. Howard Dean Democratic 213,523 74.73% John McClaughry Republican 65,837 23.04%
1994 Gov. Howard Dean Democratic 145,661 68.6% David F. Kelley Republican 40,292 19.0% Thomas J. Morse Independent 15,000 7.0%
1996 Gov. Howard Dean Democratic 179,544 70.5% John L. Gropper Republican 57,161 22.4%
1998 Gov. Howard Dean Democratic 121,425 55.6% Ruth Dwyer Republican 89,726 41.1%
2000 Gov. Howard Dean Democratic 148,059 50.4% Ruth Dwyer Republican 111,359 37.9% Anthony Pollina Progressive 28,116 9.5%

2004 Democratic presidential primaries:

Notes and references

Further reading

  • Dean, Howard. You Have the Power: How to Take Back Our Country and Restore Democracy in America. Simon & Schuster, 2004. ISBN 0-7432-7013-4
  • Dean, Howard. Winning Back America. Simon & Schuster, 2003. ISBN 0-7432-5571-2
  • Dunnan, Dana. Burning at the Grassroots: Inside the Dean Machine. Pagefree (vanity press), 2004. ISBN 1-58961-261-2
  • Trippi, Joe. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. ReganBooks, 2004. ISBN 0-06-076155-5
  • Van Susteren, Dirk. Howard Dean: A Citizen's Guide to the Man Who Would Be President. Steerforth, 2003. ISBN 1-58642-075-5

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