Three Democrats Exit Chairman Race, Howard Dean Likely Winner

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 1, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Three Democrats Exit Chairman Race, Howard Dean Likely Winner Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 1, 2005

Washington, DC ( — Howard Dean moved a couple steps closed to becoming the next chairman of the Democratic Party on Tuesday when two other candidates announced they were leaving the race, including one of his top rivals.

Former Texas Rep. Martin Frost dropped out of the race on Tuesday along with David Leland, former chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party. Both men back abortion and Frost was considered one of the top alternatives to Dean.

Frost called Dean, according to an Associated Press report, and all but congratulated him on capturing the party’s top leadership post. Frost did not endorse Dean, but Leland did.

Former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb left the race on Monday and endorsed Dean.

The decisions were the result of the AFL-CIO opting against endorsing any candidate. The top Dean alternatives hoped to get labor’s backing to overcome the substantial lead the former Vermont governor and failed presidential candidate has built.

Democratic activist Donnie Fowler, whose father is a former national party chairman, received the support of a number of state party chairs over the weekend and is probably the only candidate left with the ability to defeat Dean.

A Fowler representative told AP that only one-third of the 447 DNC voting members have officially endorsed a candidate.

Party activist Simon Rosenberg and former Indiana Rep. Tim Roemer, who is pro-life, are also in the race.

Roemer spokesman Ruben Pulido said the former September 11 commission member has no plans to drop out.

The decision on a new party chair will have a significant effect on how the party handles the issue of abortion, which is partly credited with helping President Bush win re-election. Presidential candidate John Kerry lost support from Catholic voters because of his staunch pro-abortion position.

Roemer has drawn significant opposition, including boos at a New York meeting last weekend, because he’s challenged the party’s pro-abortion establishment.

Yet, even other candidates such as Dean, who was blasted during the presidential campaign for once working at Planned Parenthood, acknowledge that the party has to moderate its image on the thorny issue.