Dean raises $52,000 for congressional candidate

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(Host) The campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean says its pilot project to help raise money for a member of Congress from Iowa has been very successful. The campaign says that demonstrates that Dean’s grass roots support can be a factor in Congressional elections next year.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) One of the chief goals of this project was to show that Dean’s Internet fundraising base could be a valuable asset to Democrats across the country as the Party tries to win back control of both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate. The project is a direct response to a number of Democratic Party officials who have expressed concern about Dean’s candidacy.

They’re worried that if Dean wins the Democratic nomination, the Republicans will try to paint Dean as an ultra liberal candidate. If this strategy is successful, not only will Dean be defeated but the Democrats could lose a lot of seats in Congress.

The Dean campaign sent fund raising letters to its Internet base, which now numbers roughly half a million people, seeking funds for Iowa Democrat Leonard Boswell who’s been targeted for defeat by the Republicans. Boswell, who has not endorsed any candidate in the presidential race, is the only Democrat in Iowa’s five member U.S. House delegation.

Dean Campaign manager Joe Trippi says 1,359 contributors responded to the appeal generating nearly $52,000 for Representative Boswell in a 24-hour period. Speaking on a conference call with dozens of reporters, Trippi says the results show that Dean can help elect Democrats next November if he’s the nominee of the party:

(Trippi) “It was important for us to signal to Democrats in Washington and other places that our grassroots support can and will build a much stronger party and make us competitive in the September to November period next year – in terms of not just money but grassroots organizers in different districts as they work for Dean and other Democrats.”

(Kinzel) Drake University political science professor Dennis Goldford says Dean’s effort to help Representative Boswell, is bold and innovative:

(Goldford) “This certainly indicates confidence in the Dean campaign on their capacity to raise funds. Normally they tend to believe there’s a limited amount they can raise and they’re going to devote everything they can to their own campaigns, so this suggests of course the Dean campaign is very confident about their fundraising prowess.”

(Kinzel) Dean campaign manager Trippi says he plans to use the Dean Internet base to help other congressional candidates in the next few months. Trippi says the next effort will probably involve a special election in Kentucky in mid-January.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel, in Montpelier.

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