January 21st, 2009
04:12 PM ET
8 months ago

Dean says goodbye as Kaine takes over DNC

Kaine is Obama’s choice to head the DNC.
Kaine is Obama’s choice to head the DNC.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – After a four-year term that saw Democrats take control of the White House and both chambers of Congress, Howard Dean bid farewell to the Democratic National Committee on Wednesday, but not without offering a hearty endorsement of the incoming chairman, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine.

Addressing party members at the DNC’s annual Winter Meeting in Washington, Dean called Kaine “one of our party’s great leaders” and said he is “the right choice to lead the Democratic National Committee into this new era of American politics and to support President Obama’s agenda.”

Kaine, President Obama’s choice to succeed Dean, won the uncontested election for the chairmanship with a near-unanimous voice vote from party members (there was a single “nay” from the audience). His first order of business as chairman was to honor Dean, who leaves the committee with an extraordinary level of popularity among its members.

“Howard, I have no doubt that any future success that we have is going to be due in large party to your incredible work,” Kaine told Dean. “I feel like I am taking over for someone who just won three Super Bowls in a row.”

Much to the glee of the many state party chairs in the audience, the Virginia governor praised Dean’s sponsorship of the “50-state strategy,” which directed DNC resources to red and blue states alike.

“The 50-state strategy is now and forever what Democrats do,” Kaine said.

But speaking to reporters after his speech, Kaine provided few details on how the strategy will move forward in the new administration.

He pledged to “play strong in all 50 states” but would not commit to placing DNC staffers in every state, only promising to reveal an “intense strategic plan” in the next two months. Some states might need personnel, he said, but others might require “expertise and research.”

One state that does look promising for Democrats, Kaine said, is Texas.

“I will say this, the trends in Texas are very positive,” he told reporters after the topic of Texas came up in the general session. “Texas is a lot like Virginia. Strong Democratic majorities for a very long time, and there’s been wilderness years, just like Virginia.”

Dean’s final appearance before the committee was interrupted numerous times by standing ovations from party members. And although the closest he came to a position in the new administration was a seat on Barack Obama’s inaugural stage, the outgoing chairman betrayed no hint of bitterness as he bid farewell to the committee.

Instead, Dean spoke enthusiastically of Obama and said he was “humbled” by the progress the party has made over the last four years.

Among the party’s successes, Dean pointed to electoral victories in the West and the South, technological advancements that outpaced the GOP, outreach to young voters and people of faith, and the creation a national voter file. He noted, however, that Democrats must continue the hard work, especially in the West and the South.

“We cannot appear complacent,” he said. “We know the political landscape changes very quickly. We need to keep showing up, keep asking people for their vote, or we can lose those parts of the country just as quickly as we won them.”


Filed under: DNC
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Bill in Tx

    Dean for U.S. Senate in 2010

    January 21, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  2. Willy Brown

    YAWN.....

    January 21, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  3. THE OLD TIMER

    DEAN SHOULD HAVE BEEN FIRED

    January 21, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  4. chuck

    THE BEST PERSON GOT THE JOB. GOOD LUCK TIM.

    January 21, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  5. Brian G, Sugar Land, TX

    Meet the new boss...

    January 21, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  6. bco

    Outstanding job, Dr. Dean.

    Someone remind me why Tom Daschle is Secretary of Health and Human Services.

    January 21, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  7. John Fournier

    Obama should have asked Dean to keep the job.

    January 21, 2009 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  8. Allen, Hartwell GA

    I love CNN and have nothing out of the ordinary to say about this subject.

    January 21, 2009 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  9. Patsy Madison, TN

    What will Dean do? I think that he did a great job for the democrats.

    January 21, 2009 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  10. Bud

    Now if the DNC can lobby to replace Pelosi and Reid, perhaps the Dems can move forward instead of down the well-worn path to self-destruction. Kaine is a good man and much better suited than Dean to lead the DNC. A good look back at the use of leadership in the Dem camp by the opposition shows the weakness of Pelosi and Reid. Credability is important and governing from the middle is necessity.

    January 21, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  11. chris

    If he runds the DNC the way he has run Virginia (to the largest deficit in history), it will put smiles on the faces of a lot of Republicans

    January 21, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  12. Justin from New Haven, CT

    Dean is a fool for leaving

    January 21, 2009 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  13. Robert Larson

    Dr. Howard Dean did a great job as the chairperson of the DNC and we all owe him a debt of gratitude. Not only was his work as the head of the DNC great, he showed the way in his own campaign how to attract voters and use the Internet. Thank you Dr. Dean. I hope you continue to be involved in National politics. Like thousands of others I worked on the Obama campaign as a volunteer calling voters and contributing in other ways. I appreciated the fact that you came out to Oregon in the closing weeks of the campaign and if I had not been working on a phone bank I would have told Dr. Dean this personally.

    Best of luck.

    Robert J. Larson
    Attorney at Law
    399 E. 10th Avenue
    Eugene, Or. USA 97401

    January 21, 2009 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  14. Bilford Tubbs

    Now Deans going to Michigan,Ohio, New york, California, Indiana then to Washington D.C. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH.

    January 21, 2009 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  15. Patrick

    I can now vote for a democrat again. Dean was a hate filled idealouge. No one will miss him. Go scream yourself out of another job.

    January 21, 2009 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  16. Cynthia

    Wow! What a democratic process! Glad to see everyone on the left line up for whatever they are told to do! Is this like a form of pay to play politics???????????

    January 21, 2009 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |