Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean meets with tribal leaders"

Tacoma News Tribune:
Howard Dean, chairman of the national Democratic Party, wooed the Puyallup Tribal Council on Tuesday in a sign of the tribe’s growing influence.
Dean met with tribal council members for lunch in the Bridge nightclub at the tribe’s Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma. Midday gamblers played blackjack and fed video terminals on the floor below while Dean dined in an intimate setting with council members in the largely darkened nightclub.

Dean was in the Puget Sound area for Democratic Party fundraisers. The Puyallup Tribe was the only tribe on his itinerary.

“They are politically very active,” Dean said in a brief interview before the meeting.

He also said the tribe is close with Kalyn Free, a Cherokee Indian whom Dean appointed to the Democratic National Committee. Free is founder of INDN’s List, a national American Indian political organization.

The Web site shows the Puyallup tribe has given over $155,000 to support federal races since 1996, with Democratic candidates and organizations benefiting the most. State campaign finance reports show the tribe donated another $324,000 to campaigns in Washington state just since 2004.

It’s not as much as the Tulalip or Muckleshoot tribes. But the Puyallups are growing in influence, particularly with the tribe’s plans to develop a 180-acre shipping container terminal along the eastern shore of the Blair Waterway in Tacoma’s Tideflats. It would be the biggest and most expensive terminal at the port.

Dean’s staff would not allow a News Tribune reporter to attend his meeting with the tribal council members. But tribal Chairman Herman Dillon said afterward that Dean didn’t ask for money. “He was looking for how we can work together,” Dillon said.

Dillon said Dean talked about getting tribal members involved in running for office. Dean also asked about how the port project was progressing and about the tribe’s anti-gang efforts, said tribal spokesman John Weymer.

Dean also discussed the possibility of tribes working together with Democrats to bring presidential candidates to Washington for speaking engagements, Weymer said.

Dean spoke to the tribal council members for about half an hour before leaving for a pair of Seattle fundraisers. Dean said he expects the topic of unseating Republican Congressman Dave Reichert to come up while he is in the state.

“That is a Democratic district,” Dean said.

The district runs from Seattle’s Eastside suburbs down through South King and East Pierce counties. Dean said he did not know who would be the party’s challenger to Reichert in 2008.

Darcy Burner, who lost to Reichert last year by 7,000 votes out of 251,000 cast, intends to try again. State Sen. Rodney Tom and state Rep. Chris Hurst also are considered possible Democratic candidates for the seat

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