Obama taking over DNC, but Dean will remain chairman

Barack Obama is moving to take control of the Democratic National Committee, as the party's nominee always does, but there'll be a familiar face at the top.

Published June 5, 2008 4:46PM (EDT)

To the victor go the spoils, and one traditional spoil for the Democratic Party's presidential nominee is control of the Democratic National Committee. It only makes sense; the DNC will now be working hard for the election of Barack Obama as president, and the campaign and the party apparatus need to be working in concert to be effective. So for the past couple of days, Obama has been working quickly to harmonize his operation with the DNC's.

The first big sign of the closeness between the two was the announcement that the DNC will no longer accept money from federal lobbyists or political action committees. This change represents the long-standing policy of Obama's campaign. Then there was the appointment of Paul Tewes, who oversaw Obama's efforts in Iowa, to be the campaign's chief operational planner at the DNC.

In a situation like this, it is Obama's prerogative to bring in the DNC chairman of his choice, no matter how high profile Howard Dean has been lately. But the news out of the Obama camp is that Dean will in fact be staying on as chairman.

"Sen. Obama appreciates the hard work that Chairman Dean has done to grow our party at the grass-roots level and looks forward to working with him as the chairman of the Democratic Party as we go forward," Obama spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement.

Both the Associated Press and the Politico's Ben Smith point out that in deciding to keep Dean as DNC chairman, Obama will most likely also keep the state party chairs happy; they've liked Dean's 50-state strategy. Before the move to retain Dean was announced, Smith wrote that the state party chairs "want Dean to stay, and will fight to keep him."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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2008 Elections Barack Obama Howard Dean War Room