Be careful what you ask for

By Tim Grieve

Published February 2, 2005 6:19PM (EST)

Howard Dean has just picked up two more critical endorsements in the race for the DNC chairmanship. While the AFL-CIO isn't going to endorse a candidate, individual unions are beginning to do so. The United Auto Workers and the United Steel Workers of America just threw their weight behind Dean.

Watch for New Democrat Network president Simon Rosenberg and former Indian Rep. Tim Roemer to announce their departure from the race as soon as the air clears from the State of the Union address. That will leave Donnie Fowler alone in a two-man race with Dean. That's where Fowler has always wanted to be -- the better to consolidate the anti-Dean vote behind him -- but it's hard to imagine how Fowler can overcome the Dean juggernaut at this late date.

Fowler has his supporters, and he picked up another one Tuesday, when the chairman of the Pennsylvania party endorsed him. But Fowler's only real hope is that DNC voters think twice about Dean as they begin to confront the reality of his chairmanship. Fowler's staff insists publicly that he still has a good shot at winning. "Not one person has cast a vote yet," Fowler spokeswoman Kirsten Powers told us this morning, just after she appeared in a Fox News segment that ended with the obligatory showing of "the scream."

Powers said that Fowler has "significant support" and that he wouldn't be in the race if he didn't. She also said that she thinks DNC voters may continue to shift until the voting begins on Feb. 12. "I think even people who have pledged to one candidate or another will continue to think about this over the remaining nine days," she said. "Dean has not broken the 50 percent barrier, and he has to do that. Until the votes are cast, this is not a coronation. It's an election."

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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