For Democrats, the first major step to rebuilding and regrouping after the November loss is choosing a new party leader, which will happen soon after the New Year. The jockeying to replace Terry McAuliffe is well underway and provides a good window into the dilemmas facing the party right now. Should Democrats tack to the center a la Clinton? Work on energizing the base a la Dean? The choice of DNC chair will reflect a party agreement, as much as there will be one in just a few weeks, on how to move forward. Howard Dean, who's considering running for the post according to Blog for America -- others say he's actively lobbying for it on Capitol Hill -- could inject a dose of passion into the proceedings and keep progressives in the party fold, and is reportedly selling himself on his established fund-raising credentials. But the New York Times tells us this morning that some Democrats hope others -- many others, as unlike Dean as possible -- will jump into the running. "Dr. Dean is by far the best known [of the potential DNC chair candidates], but his close identification with the left wing and the collapse of his presidential campaign are almost certain to prompt a challenge from moderates already concerned about the task in unseating Republicans, party officials said."
The more "moderate" possibilities included Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, but he took himself out of the running. And former Clinton labor secretary Alexis Herman also said she's not interested, the Times reported. Other possibilities include Harold Ickes, former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk of Dallas, former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb of Denver, Simon Rosenberg, president of the New Democratic Network, and Leo Hindery Jr., former chairman of the YES Network.
While "party officials" are expressing their concern about Dean to the New York Times, he appears to be the most popular choice among 155 DNC members who were polled by the Hotline last week. MyDD has the numbers and more analysis.