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Thursday, August 21, 2003


Governors Delay on Dean

posted by Aziz P. at Thursday, August 21, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
This is not a surprising story, as the govs' endorsement is not in and of itself guaranteed. It does show that the 2004 race will be much more complex than 2000, though. And it proves that we are just getting started:

In contrast to the Republicans in 2000, Democratic governors this year have remained on the sidelines as Dean's candidacy has gained strength and support. On the basis of interviews with many of the Democrats who are attending the National Governors Association (NGA) meeting here this week, it appears unlikely that Dean can expect to see significant gubernatorial support anytime soon.
Half of the 24 Democratic governors are new to their offices and are more concerned about the economic difficulties in their states than playing a role in presidential politics. Nearly all face serious fiscal problems and need to put together coalitions to pass spending cuts to balance their budgets -- coalitions that might be jeopardized by siding with one presidential candidate over another.

"I don't think it's a comment about Howard Dean or a criticism of Howard Dean," Vilsack said. "It's a comment about the whole situation."

Still, Dean's lack of gubernatorial support is notable, if only because he is one of two candidates who brings a state perspective to the issues and because of his involvement in the governors' organizations. Sen. Bob Graham (Fla.) is the only other Democratic candidate with experience running a state, but because his gubernatorial service came during the 1980s, he has few ties to the current generation of Democratic governors. Dean, on the other hand, served as Vermont's chief executive throughout the 1990s, was chairman of the NGA from 1994 to 1995 and later served as chairman of the Democratic Governors' Association (DGA) and as the DGA's chief of candidate recruitment.

Despite those connections, not one incumbent governor has announced his support for Dean. The only ones who have backed a candidate have endorsed home-state candidates. Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) has the support of North Carolina's Mike Easley and former governor Jim Hunt, while Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (Mo.) has been endorsed by Missouri Gov. Bob Holden.

The story has quotes from several governors and their comments are quite illuminating. I get the sense of a desire to endorse Dean, held in check by fear and the real need for a safe bet. Our work is cut out for us.

UPDATE: The TNR &c blog calls this "the biggest non-story of the campaign." However, they assume the article is a doomsayer (if it was, I would agree with their assessment). I see the article as between-the-lines optimistic, however.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.