Monday, January 19, 2009

Why Scale Back Successful 50-State Strategy?

Howard Dean's 50-state strategy has been widely credited not only with effectively strengthening the Democratic Party across the nation, but also with helping Obama win the election. Some say that Obama went so far to tell Dean on election night that he couldn't have won without him.

Dean has just been replaced by Tim Kaine as chair of the DNC. Many believe that once Obama chose Emanuel as his chief of staff, Dean's fate was sealed, given Emanuel's criticism of the 50-state strategy in the past. Dean is clearly disappointed that Obama did not offer him a position in his administration:
"Obviously, it would have been great," Dean said in a telephone interview from his home in Burlington, Vt. "But it's not happening and the president has the right to name his own Cabinet, so I'm not going to work in the government it looks like."
But why has Kaine now decided, after first praising the 50-state strategy for its overwhelming success, that it would be scaled back? Because
You never should just do what you did yesterday.
This unconvincing justification has been appropriately mocked in the blogosphere.

But what might be the real reason? Perhaps Obama wants to leverage his extensive campaign network to gain greater control over the Democratic Party, which could be similar to the approach he took after winning the primary when he asked donors not to fund 527s so that his campaign could further centralize control over organization and messaging?

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