Former candidates out of spotlight but not out of politics

Posted 11:46pm April 4

by Jane Black
U-WIRE Washington Bureau

Those who ran unsuccessfully this election season for the Democratic Party’s presidential bid may be out of the political spotlight, but are far from being out of political view.

At one point, the race for the Democratic bid included ten contenders. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, thought to be the frontrunner early in the primary season, publicly threw his support behind presumptive party nominee Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry during a rally at George Washington University. Dean pushed aside the sometimes-bitter competition between him and his formal rival in hopes of working towards a common goal.

“As I have previously said, I will work closely with John Kerry to make sure we beat George Bush in November and turn our country around,” said Dean in a written message to Democratic voters. “During the campaign we often focused on what divided us, but the truth is we have much more in common beginning with our fervent desire to send George Bush back to Crawford, Texas in November. The future of our country depends on this.”

Dean announced on March 18 the creation of Democracy for America, a group that he hopes will mobilize democratic voters. In a letter to as many as his 640,000 campaign supporters, Dean described his new organization as “committed to fighting for progressive policies, like health care for all; investment in children; equal rights under the law; fiscal responsibility; and a national security policy that makes America stronger by advancing progressive values.”

Dean says Democracy for America will try and do a number of things for the party, including encouraging voters at the grass-roots level to get involved in local politics. The DFA says they will even help provide training and support for first-time candidates who choose to enter politics. The organization says they will also try to recruit 1,000 candidates at the local and state levels to “embrace progressive politics and stand up for Democratic principles.” Dean says the group will help raise money for Democrats in upcoming Senate and House races.

Lastly, DFA plans to educate voters about Bush’s record and his plans if elected for the next four years.

“Dean’s new organization is his transition from ‘Dean for America,'” said a Democracy for America spokesperson at the DFA headquarters.

One thing that all candidates gained from the lost campaign is more exposure and the possibility of a position in a new administration.

North Carolina Sen. John Edwards dropped out of the race on March 3 after he failed to win any of the 10 Super Tuesday contests and fell more than 1,000 delegates behind Kerry. However, Edwards is a possible choice for a cabinet spot if the Democrats win the presidential race.

Edwards also put his support behind Kerry, who became the presumptive Democratic nominee when Edwards dropped out.

“John Kerry has what it takes right here to be president of the United States,” said Edwards in his March 3 concession speech to Kerry. “I, for one, intend to do everything in my power to make him the next president of the United States, and I ask you to join me in this cause.”

Since Edwards dropped out of the race he has been back in his Senate office, paying special attention to constituent concerns.

“Edwards has since held two Tar Heel Thursday meetings, which are town hall meetings where constituents come in and talk directly with Edwards,” said Jonathan Sumrell, who works in Edward’s Capitol Hill office. “He is getting back into the swing of things.”

Former rival Gen. Wesley Clark, whose only victory in his five months of campaigning was the Oklahoma primary, dropped out of the race on February 11. Clark also immediately put his support behind Kerry, emphasizing Kerry’s navy service in Vietnam.

“I’m proud to be standing with John Kerry — a real American patriot, a true statesman, a great leader, and the next President of the United States,” said Edwards in a Feb. 13 speech. “I’m doing my part to make sure that he wins this fall, including making calls, appearing on news shows, and reaching out to voters.”

Rev. Al Sharpton, a civil rights activist who often brought amusement to his campaign, endorsed Kerry’s bid for the party nomination on March 15. However, Sharpton declined to formally withdraw from the race, even though he never won a single primary or caucus.Sharpton plans to campaign until the Democratic National Convention this July in Boston, Mass. Sharpton has also expressed that he wants to pursue a radio or cable television show to pursue his urban agenda.

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