Democrat Candidates for Party Chairman Seek Edge, Fight Over Abortion

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 24, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Democrat Candidates for Party Chairman Seek Edge, Fight Over Abortion Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 24, 2005

Washington, DC ( — Over the weekend, Democrats seeking the party chairmanship attended another of the four regional meetings prior to February’s vote.

The candidates are working feverishly to prevent pro-abortion former Vermont Governor Howard Dean from solidifying a lead while pro-life former Congressman Tim Roemer continues to battle those who say a pro-life person should not lead the party.

Former Denver mayor Wellington Webb pressed home the issue of abortion during the meetings, reiterating his support for abortion and telling party activists that Democrats should not compromise their views on the issue, a subtle jab at Roemer.

Roemer shied away some from the abortion battle brewing in the party and said he would not seek to change the party’s platform were he selected for the top post.

As he did during the presidential primaries, Dean is staking out an early lead and unveiled a surprisingly long list of endorsements, including the chairman of the Oklahoma Deocratic Party.

But, Oklahoma Democrats tell CNN that they don’t agree with endorsing Dean, who backs abortion, because he doesn’t represent the kind of moderate to conservative social values that is leading some to support Roemer.

"Like most Oklahoma Democrats, I do not believe Gov. Dean shares our values or is the right person to lead our party at this time," state Sen. Debbe Lefwich, a DNC voting member, said.

A poll conducted by the Hotline, an inside the Beltway political newsletter, had responses from 42 percent of the DNC members who will vote. Dean led the group of candidates and ex-Texas Congressman Martin Frost came up second.

Frost, who clerked for the lower court judge who made the Roe vs. Wade ruling that the Supreme Court sustained, supports abortion.

Roemer is the combined first or second choice of just 11 percent of the Democrats who answered the survey.

Still, Roemer told the South Bend Tribune newspaper last Thursday, "I’ve got a good fighting chance."

"I’m positive about it," Roemer said of the race, adding that he believes "it’s about building momentum" and "being a chairman that can help us be competitive in all 50 states."

Roemer is beginning to get some of the endorsements he needs to have a shot.

Pro-abortion California congresswomen Anna Eshoo and Ellen Tauscher have backed him. He enjoys the support of former Louisiana senator John Breaux, Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker, Rep. Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts, and another former Indiana congressman, Lee Hamilton.

Roemer told the newspaper he has spoken to about 300 of the delegates who will make the decision.

The approximately 440 Democrat leaders who can vote will cast their ballots on February 12 for a new party leader.