Howard Dean Steps Down as DNC Chairman
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Former Vermont governor Howard Dean, five years ago a laughingstock after his infamous scream following his loss in the Iowa presidential primary, stepped down as chairman of the Democratic National Committee yesterday to thunderous applause as party members credited him with helping Democrats capture both houses of Congress and the White House during the past two election cycles.
Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine officially took over as Dean completed a four-year tenure as chairman.
"We have rebuilt our party, and we have taken our country back," Dean told several hundred DNC members attending the party's winter meeting in Washington. "We have rebuilt our party into a national powerhouse."
It is standard to appoint a new party chairman after four years, but Dean's departure from an official role in Washington politics may not be entirely voluntary. Despite Democratic gains during his DNC tenure, he was not offered a Cabinet post in the new administration.
And when President Obama and Kaine held an event this month to announce Kaine's appointment, Dean was in American Samoa, finishing his visits to every state and U.S. territory. He was not invited to the event, and some DNC members said privately that they were not happy with the Obama's team treatment of him.
Dean had clashed over campaign strategy in 2006 with Rahm Emanuel, who was the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman, although Obama aides have played down any tension between the two. Emanuel is now Obama's chief of staff.
Aides said Dean plans to give speeches and work on campaign strategy with liberal parties in Europe.
Kaine will serve as part-time chairman of the party until next year, when he will leave the governor's office and can work full time in his new post.
Kaine, who was tapped by Obama and unopposed for the chairmanship, called Dean "as good a chairman as this party has ever had."
"I feel like I'm taking over for someone who won three Super Bowls in a row," he said.