The chairman of the DNC is venturing beyond party lines with a major endorsement in his home state. Former Vermont governor Howard Dean said Monday that he'll back Rep. Bernie Sanders' bid for the U.S. senate seat opening up when Jim Jeffords retires in 2006. Like Jeffords, Sanders is an Independent; Dean calls him a "strong candidate."
Supporters say it's a savvy choice -- part of the minority party's efforts to do whatever it takes to regain seats in every branch of government and beat back the aggressive right-wing agenda of President Bush and congressional Republicans. (Sanders, the only U.S. representative from Vermont, has a voting record aligned with House Democrats.)
Others are more dubious, including one blogger over at "Dummocrats," who, under the banner "Commie Watch," says Sanders is in fact a Socialist. (The post cites several books covering Sanders' days as mayor of Burlington more than a decade ago.)
"We've got a few things to work out with Bernie," Dean remarked on Monday. "Bernie's not a Democrat." He declined to go into further detail about ironing out the kinks, adding, "I'd rather tell him in person."