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Insiders Who Are On the Outs

Lofgren has no regrets -- a conference call with Dean and his congressional supporters yesterday morning was all thanks and gratitude. But she is realistic. "Obviously, whoever becomes president will remember who came to their side first," she says.

Those who might pay a greater price are lobbyists, who depend on the party apparatus to steer business their way. "When someone comes looking for a firm, maybe my name won't be on the list," says Nikki Heidepriem, a lobbyist who helped organize an eclectic group of Washington lobbyists, businesspeople and academics for Dean. "I may never know who said or did what, but it will be a question of business not coming my way.

Lobbyist Nikki Heidepriem, who helped organize a group of Washington lobbyists, people and acedemics for Dean, expects to pay a price. (Sarah L. Voisin - The Washington Post)

"But you just have to do what makes sense at the time," she says.

Former congressman Toby Moffett was also part of the group. As one of the Watergate babies, and a former Green activist, Moffett says the Dean campaign reminded him of why he got into politics in the first place. "Anyone who went to Burlington had a sense that said, 'Wow, something different is really happening here,' " says Moffett, now a lobbyist with the Livingston Group. In their youth, he and his friends had thought they were creative by campaigning in supermarkets, but here was a "revolution. We were the Model T. They were the Learjet," he says of the Deanies.

But, Moffett insists now, Heidepriem's group picked up on the Dean implosion early. When Dean called Washington insiders "cockroaches," they rolled their eyes and hung on anyway. Over time, Dean never grew, he says. Now he feels casually distant. "It was never about Dean. Howard's a perfectly nice guy, but it wasn't like any of us had a long relationship with him. So it's easy to walk away."

Elaine Kamarck is not walking away so easily. A former aide to Gore, she's been writing for centrist think tanks. In the fall, she wrote columns defending Dean against the Democratic establishment (although she says her support was "lighthearted," not quite an endorsement). Now, some of her fellow centrist Democrats are pronouncing the relationship awkward.

But Kamarck is impatient with this line. "I don't quite understand why they're engaging in this weird witch hunt," she says. "It's odd, frankly, and not what this party needs. . . . I'm not sure why he was such a threat to people."

John Kerry's people, meanwhile, high on victory, are feeling magnanimous. But they don't forget. Many of them hung on even while their candidate was in single digits in the polls, and such loyalty deserves reward, they say. When former Democratic National Committee chairman Steve Grossman publicly said he was leaving the Dean campaign to join Kerry's a day before the Wisconsin primary, they accepted him. His father works for the Kerry campaign, and Grossman helped Kerry in his 1996 Senate race. But that he'd abandoned Dean so extravagantly didn't sit well. "There are codes of professional conduct," says one Kerry aide, who spoke on condition that he not be identified. "And sticking with your guy until the end is one of them.

"What I'm saying is, it's a very big tent," he concludes. "But how you behave during the primary process will not be forgotten."

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