Monday, November 10, 2008

Democrats Speculate Dean's Successor

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean will be stepping down from his post in January. The former Vermont Governor and 2004 Presidential Candidate who helped reignite the Democratic Party has always said he would only serve one term.

But the Huffington Post reported today that there may be other reasons for his departure.

Despite his promise to not seek re-election at the DNC, many Democrats thought he would do well to stay on given the recent successes he brought to the party. But as President, Barack Obama will be the new leader of the Democratic Party and his choice for a new Chair will almost certainly be approved by the DNC when they hold the upcoming elections. And Obama's new Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, is known to have been at odds with Dean.

In 2006, Emanuel, then Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the architect of the Democratic takeover of the House, criticized Dean within the party ranks for the 50-State-Strategy, which Emanuel felt was wasting resources on unwinnable races.

While Emanuel was certainly not the only critic of the 50-State-Strategy, most Democrats have come to see the operation as a success. It was perhaps the riskiest of Dean's successful (and often revolutionary) accomplishments, including the Neighborhood Leadership Program and the long overdue advances to the party's Voter File technology.

According to the article, the DNC will likely return to the leadership style they used in the 1990s, with a sort-of honorary Chair and an "Operational Chair" who will deal with the day-to-day priorities of the party. The article also lists Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) as a possible Chair and Steve Hildebrand, Obama's Deputy Campaign Manager, as the Operational Chair.

Dean is reported to have told a party operative that he will seek a promise from his successor to preserve the current DNC model - including the 50-State-Strategy - which seems likely to happen given its success.

As for Dean's future, there has been talk of him earning a position in the Obama Administration, but others say his wife will not be willing to give up her medical practice to move to Washington.

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