- The Washington Times - Friday, December 19, 2003

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean picked up several key endorsements this week, including his first from a state governor.

New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey yesterday became the first governor to endorse a non-home state Democrat running for the presidential nomination.

Democratic governors such as Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania and Bill Richardson of New Mexico have praised Mr. Dean in recent weeks but stopped just short of officially endorsing him.

Many endorsements are considered pointless outside the world of political watchers. However, endorsements from governors can be a tremendous boost if the governor actively campaigns and is able to whip up support in his state.

“Today’s endorsement by Gov. McGreevey is a fantastic honor,” Mr. Dean said. “He is a powerful addition to the greatest grassroots campaign presidential politics has ever seen. By working with state leaders like Gov. McGreevey and the other respected public servants here today, I know that we can take back our country and the White House in 2004.”

It was the endorsements from governors President Bush racked up before the 2000 election that proved instrumental in his capturing the Republican nomination.

Mr. Dean, who leads the field of nine Democrats in most polls, surprised many Democrats earlier this month when he netted an endorsement from former Vice President Al Gore. The Dean campaign also announced endorsements yesterday from 50 other key New Jersey Democrats, including Rep. Rush D. Holt.

“Howard Dean will be the next president of the United States,” Mr. McGreevey predicted. “He is inspiring people to believe in democracy again.”

Richard J. Codey, president of New Jersey’s state Senate, also endorsed Mr. Dean yesterday, saying that he has shown the most differences between himself and President Bush.

“The contrast with George Bush couldn’t be clearer and that’s why I’m backing Howard Dean,” Mr. Codey said. “Howard Dean is a leader who is inspiring Democrats and independents of all ages to get excited about politics again.”

Mr. Dean’s campaign began gathering momentum earlier this year in computer chat rooms, fueled largely by young, antiwar voters pleased with his staunch position against the war in Iraq. The campaign has steamrolled other campaigns and today holds a commanding lead in many polls over Democrats who had been favored to win the nomination.

Recent polls in the first caucus state of Iowa show Mr. Dean neck-and-neck with Rep. Richard A. Gephardt, from neighboring Missouri. But in the next state to vote in the primary, New Hampshire, Mr. Dean is shown doubling the votes of his next closest rival, Sen. John Kerry from neighboring Massachusetts. Mr. Dean’s home state of Vermont also borders New Hampshire, but it was Mr. Kerry who was long favored by the party to win the 2004 nomination.


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