Howard Dean leaves Democratic Party leadership race

By Doug G. Ware  |  Dec. 2, 2016 at 8:27 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Former Vermont governor and Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean decided Friday to cease pursuing the national party's leadership chair -- leaving just three candidates.

Dean, who served in the post between 2005 and 2009, said in a video to party officials Friday that he will step aside to allow the Democratic National Committee to move forward with new blood in its leadership post.

"I made this decision two or three weeks ago. Once I was in, I got a quick lay of the land. I think I would have and could have won," he said.

"I know this job better than anyone in this room," Dean added. "It requires 80 hours of work a week and constant travel across the country to fundraise."

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Dean's decision follows many in the Democratic Party expressing a desire for new leadership. Last month, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan unsuccessfully mounted a bid to defeat Nancy Pelosi as the party's top official in the House.

Dean's departure leaves three candidates in the race, as of Friday -- Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Jaime Harrison and New Hampshire Chairman Ray Buckley.

In leaving the race, Dean imparted some words of advice for the party moving forward, including greater appeal to younger voters and avoiding a proxy fight between supporters of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders -- a divide some analysts believe helped cost Clinton the election.

"I really feel strongly our party needs to turn itself over to the next generation," Dean said. "I'm happy to stay in the background and help coach the next chair."

Dean ran for president in 2004 but ultimately lost the party nomination to John Kerry.

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