Activist Simon Rosenberg (search) abandoned his bid for Democratic National Committee chairman on Friday and backed front-runner Howard Dean (search), moving the former presidential candidate closer to capturing the party title.

Rosenberg's departure from the race leaves a field of three — Dean; Democratic activist Donnie Fowler (search), who ran the Kerry-Edwards campaign in Michigan, and former Indiana Rep. Tim Roemer (search).

About 430 voting members of the party's naticomments and style. Rosenberg stressed Dean's success in rallying Democratic support and ability to unify the party.

"What's going on with Democrats right now is we're coming to understand and accept we're not a majority party," Rosenberg said in a telephone interview with reporters. "We're fighting in ways we didn't use to have to fight."

"All of this is a sign of tremendous progress for us as a party," he added. "Democrats recognize we have to fight harder for our beliefs."

In a statement, Rosenberg said Dean will help "revitalize our party and help us win again in the 21st century."

Dean, the former Vermont governor, enjoyed a meteoric rise in the Democratic presidential race but crashed in the Iowa caucuses last January when he finished third behind eventual nominee John Kerry and John Edwards.

Dean's candidacy sparked plenty of interest among young voters and attracted millions of dollars, largely through the Internet. But he failed to translate the buzz into votes when the primaries got under way, falling short in Iowa, New Hampshire and eventually abandoning the race.

Rosenberg, 41, president of the New Democratic Network, said he will continue to focus on strengthening the party by helping it craft a better agenda, investing and building a better infrastructure for party politics and "leading a new national commitment to nurturing the grassroots."