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Howard Dean

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Howard Brush Dean III, more commonly known as Howard Dean, was a six-term governor of Vermont and failed Democratic presidential nominee for the 2004 election, losing to John Kerry. He was also chair of the DNC from 2004-2009.

Political career[edit]

Before starting his political career, Dean worked as a medical doctor.

He initially served in the Vermont House of Representatives, before being elected Lieutenant Governor in 1986. He was re-elected to two additional two-year terms (in 1988 and 1990).

Career as Governor[edit]

Upon the sudden death of Governor Richard Snelling on August 13, 1991, Dean took over as Acting Governor. He was subsequently elected to the office himself 5 times (in 1992, 94, 96, 98 and 2000).

Dean is responsible for the so called "Dr. Dynasaur" campaign to give children in Vermont universal health care,[1] as well as signing a law permitting civil unions. Despite being a Democrat, he received endorsements from the National Rifle Association.

Presidential campaign[edit]


Dean was the third place winner in the Democratic Party primaries, after running a campaign against the Iraq War, for financial responsibility, and for healthcare reform.[2] And screaming. His "Dean Scream" after his "I Have A Scream" speech severely hurt him, despite excellent fund-raising, and made excellent comedic fodder.[3]

The reality was more mundane: Dean was shouting over the cheering crowd, with a uni-directional microphone that canceled it out. To television viewers, this created the impression that he was giving this exuberant speech to a silent room.[4]

The Deaniacs[edit]

Dean was considered a longshot for the nomination from the start. An early supporter was blogger Jerome Armstrong, whose blog MyDD at the time in 2002 was still a mix of politics and astrology but rapidly becoming one of the most popular blogs among grassroots Democrats on the web because of its extensive cataloguing of upcoming elections.[5] The popularity of MyDD may have influenced some of the online community toward Dean, whose campaign would soon pick up the clue and make extensive use of nascent social media sites such as It was Dean's March 2003 speech in Sacramento though which galvanized his campaign. He began the speech by asking "What I want to know is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting the President's unilateral intervention in Iraq?" and declared himself "here to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party,"[6] a phrase he would continue to use throughout the campaign.

Dean's sudden popularity, and his use of the Internet and "meetups" while the other candidates were still relying on traditional campaigning tactics, propelled him past John Kerry into frontrunner status by the second quarter of 2003,[7] a status Dean enjoyed through the end of 2003. Dean's supporters got the nickname "Deaniacs" and the neologism "netroots" came into use for grassroots activism conducted online. Dean supporters gravitated toward several online communities. Besides MyDD and, there was People for Change, the latter an off-shoot of Democratic Underground by Dean supporters unhappy with the perceived anti-Dean slant there.[8]

His campaign began to sink as nasty attack ads linked to the Richard Gephardt and John Kerry campaigns ran at the end of 2003 complete with photos of Osama bin Laden, portraying Dean as soft on national security[9][10] and negative campaigning between Gephardt and Dean leading up to the Iowa caucus turned voters off from both candidates. After a last-minute surge by Kerry and John Edwards in the Iowa polls, Dean finished third and Gephardt fourth; Gephardt dropped out and Dean gave his infamous speech during which he said, "we're going all the way to Washington, D.C. to take back the White House BYYYAAARRRGHHH!!"[11]

His campaign never recovered from the scream, but the influence of Dean and the Deaniacs on the party would continue through Democracy for America, the group Dean formed in 2004.[12]

DNC chairmanship[edit]

Dean was soon elected chair of the Democratic National Committee, and advocated a "50 state strategy" of contesting every seat and every state. This was in contrast to the strategy often followed by the Democratic Party of writing off states like Kansas, Nebraska, South Carolina and Utah to focus on metropolitan areas in the East Coast, West Coast and Great Lakes regions. Regardless, Dean's strategy paid off; Democrats took back both houses of Congress in 2006 before gaining a filibuster-proof majority of 60 Senate seats in 2008.

See also[edit]

  • Bernie Sanders - that other progressive failed presidential candidate from Vermont.