Howard Dean just made it official: He's a candidate for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee. In an email to supporters, Dean said that he will seek to make the Democratic Party "the party of reform" "reforming America's financial situation, reforming our electoral process, reforming health care, reforming education and putting morality back in our foreign policy."
Dean said that Democrats need to stop thinking of America as a collection of blue states and red states -- and stop ceding the "values" debate to the Republicans. "That word -- 'values' -- has lately become a codeword for appeasement of the right-wing fringe," Dean said. "But when political calculations make us soften our opposition to bigotry, or sign on to policies that add to the burden of ordinary Americans, we have abandoned our true values. We cannot let that happen. And we cannot just mouth the words. Our party must speak plainly and our agenda must clearly reflect the socially progressive, fiscally responsible values that bring our party -- and the vast majority of Americans -- together."
With his announcement today, Dean joins a race that is already crowded. Tim Roemer, a 9/11 Commission member and former Indian congressman who opposes abortion rights, entered the race earlier this month. Already in were former Texas Rep. Martin Frost, Denver Mayor Wellington Webb and Democratic activists Simon Rosenberg and Donnie Fowler, and some Democrats wouldn't mind having Terry McAuliffe stay on for another term.
DNC members meet in Washington early next month, and they'll vote on the chairmanship then.