GW’s avid Howard Dean supporters have a chance to show their pride and support once more, as he seeks the chair of the Democratic National Committee.
Former Indiana Congressman Tim Roemer announced this week that he will pull out of the race for the party’s top post, leaving Dean the only candidate for this weekend’s election.
The former Vermont governor, who originally garnered a strong following on GW’s campus when he ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination, said he hopes to strengthen the Democratic grassroots movement and improve the party at a local and national level.
Dean was all but crowned head of the Democratic Party at a Wednesday rally held in anticipation of his expected election to the party’s chairmanship.
More than 1,200 vehement supporters packed the Capitol City Brewing Company in Northeast D.C. for the event, which focused on pride in civic participation.
Dean needed to make two speeches – one inside the Capitol City Brewing Company and one outside – because the entire crowd could not fit in the restaurant.
He called for an end to personal attacks by politicians.
“I want civil discourse to come back to the political dialogue of America,” Dean said, citing Republican disparagement of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
But he then proceeded to assail Republican leaders, telling the crowd to make sure California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger “gets terminated,” rhetoric that appealed to the youth-filled crowd.
“There are a lot of young people … in this room. This is a party about the future. The Republicans are a party of the past,” he said.
Dean stressed that the future of the Democratic Party resides in its member base.
“You have to make sure (of) that, not just by working and voting but by running (for office),” he said.
Dean’s run to lead the Democratic Party has motivated some students on campus to pull out their Dean paraphernalia from before the 2004 election once again and sport their beloved T-shirts and hats on campus.
“I am waiting for him to get the respect that he deserves,” said Shauna Alexander, a junior who was active in the former governor’s youth movement, Generation Dean. She worked with the Dean campaign for one and a half years. “He would be a fabulous party chair – he has the ability to mobilize so many people,” she said.
Alexander said she believes Dean is making a comeback and will help invigorate the same college students who at one point so vociferously supported him.
“He has mobilized people young and old and is a straight talker,” she said.
After spending one week at the University her freshman year, sophomore Kelly Taylor became heavily involved in GW’s chapter of Generation Dean and served as second in charge. She said she has followed the former presidential hopeful ever since Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) beat him out for the Democratic presidential nomination.
“Dean still has fervor. I have followed the race for chair and I am so excited to see that the party is headed in the right direction,” Taylor said. “I saw him falling out of the public eye after the unfortunate event in Iowa, but I believe that he can help with furthering the principles of democracy in America.”
Chris Arterton, dean of the Graduate School of Political Management, has followed Dean’s progress and said the DNC chair has a shot at bringing more college students into the political process for Democrats.
“Dean is looking to re-energize the Democratic Party,” Arterton said. “He is also looking to gain loyalty from young generations.”
But the Dean revival has not reached some members of the GW campus. A number of students interviewed had no idea he was even running for DNC chair.
“I don’t know anything about Dean, but anything liberal is good,” said Tracy Smith, a second-year graduate student.
Some Democratic students see the candidate who screamed to motivate a crowd after he lost ground during the 2004 primaries as a hindrance to their party.
“He ran a miserable campaign, and the scream incident turned people off,” senior Marcus Mrowka said. “The party needs someone to unify the people and Dean will not do that in the South and Midwest if he is elected chairman.”