TETON VILLAGE, Wyo. – Democratic chairman Howard Dean basked in the afterglow of midterm election victories Friday with the state party chairmen who were among the biggest beneficiaries of his 50-state strategy.
Dean, scheduled to speak to the Association of State Democratic Chairs at a ski resort getaway, was lauded for his approach of funneling more money to the state Democratic party organizations — money they partly used to hire staff to organize and put pressure on Republicans.
But the Democratic National Committee chairman and one-time presidential contender has his critics.
Clinton strategist James Carville has attacked Dean recently for his strategy, saying he left too much money in the bank that could have been used to seize an even larger Democratic majority in Congress.
It's clear who state party directors and chairmen, who get the money, have sided with.
"I don't think Mr. Carville knows what he's talking about," said Richard Stallings, the Idaho party chairman. "Democrats haven't been winning on the kind of stuff Carville is talking about. The 50-state strategy is the future."
The state chairmen and vice chairmen were key to Dean's successful campaign to become national chairman in 2005, giving him the votes he needed to trump critics from inside the Beltway, where he is not a favorite of the party's established powerbrokers.
The strategy worked, the state chairmen said, who hailed Democrats' victories not only in Congress, but in state legislatures and all the way down to county commissions.
"So when the James Carvilles of the world question the money given to state parties, I have to wonder why," said Mike Gierau, the Wyoming Democratic Party Chairman.
The state chairmen are expected to pass a resolution voicing strong support for Dean, who turned 58 on Friday.
While the chairmen were lauding Dean as the architect of Democratic victories, some liberals hundreds of miles to the north — and across an international border — were not impressed.
Members of Canada's out-of-power Liberal Party were in a snit over the selection of Dean to give the keynote address at their upcoming convention to elect a national leader. An unsuccessful U.S. presidential candidate has no place telling Canadians how to win elections, they complained.
"I, as a Canadian, am appalled to have an American loser address a keynote convention that will choose Canada's next prime minister," Ray Heard, former Liberal Party communications director, told CTV television on Thursday.