DC for Dean

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is almost certain to win the nation’s first Democratic presidential primary next month, picking up momentum that could make him unstoppable.

But that primary won’t be in New Hampshire. It will be in D.C. And Dean’s winning issue won’t be opposition to the Iraq War. It will be his support for an unconstitutional plan to pack the Senate with two more Democrats.

Dean’s imminent D.C. victory is the ultimate, if unexpected, fruit of first-rate political work by the D.C. Democracy Fund, which describes itself as “the nation’s only Political Action Committee (PAC) dedicated to securing full voting rights in Congress for citizens of the District of Columbia.”

Under Executive Director Sean Tenner, the fund started pushing last January for D.C. to hold the first Democratic primary of 2004. Its intention was to highlight a single issue: House and Senate representation for the District. The Democratic National Committee opposed the primary because — among other reasons — DNC rules make the Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire primary the first two delegate-binding events of the campaign.

Yet, bucking what Tenner described to me as “tremendous pressure” from the DNC, the D.C. Council voted unanimously for legislation scheduling the primary. Mayor Anthony Williams signed the bill, and the Republican Congress (which has 30 days to veto District legislation) allowed it to become law.


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