Thursday, June 05, 2008

"State chairs push to keep Dean"

Ben Smith:
Now that Obama is formally the nominee, he's begun one of the traditional steps a nominee takes: Turning the Democratic National Committee into an arm of his campaign, a conduit for large contributions from wealthy donors and a home for some of the field organizing that that money can finance, as well as an allied press operation.

Obama's aides are saying today they'll bring the DNC in line with Obama's anti-lobbyist fundraising stance, and former Iowa state director Paul Tewes is likely to go over to oversee the raising and spending, along with other staffers throughout the organization.

One unknown: Will Howard Dean stay? Obama's camp has operated from the start as though a large chunk of Dean's original base -- the "Netroots" -- were irrelevant, and Obama has built an online juggernaut that dwarfs what's left of of Dean for America, Democracy for America. Obama also likes control, and though Dean has generally avoided being a distraction, he's not Obama's guy.

But Dean also has a new base: The state party officials who love his 50 state program, which has given them cash and paid for something like 200 field organizers around the country. They want Dean to stay, and will fight to keep him.

"The Obama campaign is aware of the affection that many state chairs have for Governor Dean," Brian Melendez, the Minnesota Democratic chairman told me the other day.

Melendez also said he wasn't sure Dean would want to stay, but he and other chairs would clearly like him to.

In the end, though, it'll be Obama's -- and Dean's -- call.

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