WASHINGTON – Howard Dean (search), the former Vermont governor whose appeal with minorities was questioned during his presidential race, won support Tuesday from several key black Democratic National Committee (search) members for his bid to be DNC chairman.
Dean, one of seven candidates for the chair position, won the support of Yvonne Atkinson Gates, chair of the DNC's black caucus, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois and Minyon Moore, a longtime DNC member and former aide to President Clinton.
Dean stirred controversy during the presidential primary campaign by saying he wants "to be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks." Dean later said he had done a poor job of making a legitimate point about the need to expand the party.
On Tuesday, Dean also announced the backing of Bob Farmer, former finance chair for John Kerry's presidential campaign, and Joe Cari, a former finance chair for the DNC. Dean also is getting the backing of former national party chairs David Wilhelm and Steve Grossman, who was a key supporter in his presidential race.
In another development, MoveOn.org, a liberal advocacy group, announced plans to get involved in the race for DNC chair. The involvement of the group, which mounted an active Internet and grassroots effort during the presidential campaign, initially would seem to help Dean — with the organization calling for election of a chair who will express "strong opposition to Republican extremism" — though it also could help build opposition from the moderate wing of the party.
Other candidates for the DNC post have been collecting endorsements from DNC members and past party leaders, though none have been announcing DNC endorsements at the same pace as Dean.
Opponents say Dean can get to a third or half of the DNC votes needed to win, but will have trouble winning a clear majority of DNC members.
Other candidates to be chair are former Texas Congressman Martin Frost (search), New Democrat Network founder Simon Rosenberg (search), former Indiana Congressman Tim Roemer (search), former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb (search), Democratic strategist Donnie Fowler (search) and former Ohio Democratic chair David Leland (search).