Queens Democrats have decided to stand by former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean as their choice for president despite the candidates slumping poll numbers and inability to garner wins in any of the primary contests so far.
Mike Reich, executive director of the Queens County Democratic Organization, said he and a majority of the Democratic elected officials in the borough are still confident Dean can pull together the 2,159 delegates needed to secure the partys nomination leading up to the July 26 start of the Democratic National Convention in Boston.
At the time, Gov. Dean was the logical selection, Reich said of the partys decision to endorse the former governor in November. When we came out for Gov. Dean, Sen. Kerry was dying in the polls.
The other candidates for president besides Dean include current front-runner U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D- Mass.), former Gen. Wesley Clark, U.S. Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), and the Rev. Al Sharpton. Dean had been at the head of the pack of Democrats in the race to challenge President George W. Bush leading up to the Iowa caucuses last month.
But since Deans failure to fulfill expectations and win both Iowa and the New Hampshire primary, the former governors poll numbers and ability to raise funds have waned. This has brought many political observers and even Dean supporters to question the candidates viability.
For Queens Democrats, a majority of whom joined together to come out in favor of Dean, the choice was and still is clear.
This presidential primary is like any other presidential primary it is a roller-coaster ride, Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) said. We made the decision to back Howard Dean because he was the best candidate in terms of the issues he spoke about, in terms of the vision he espoused.
Liu said he and other Democrats in Queens will be working for Dean in the coming weeks leading up to New York states primary March 2. The outcome of that day, dubbed Super Tuesday, could break Deans campaign if he fails to win any primaries.
We assess the candidates based on what they stand for, Liu said. We are not going to simply jump ship because we are not in first place. Instead, we are going to fight to get back to first place.
Former Vice President Al Gore formally endorsed Dean Dec. 9, the day after the former Vermont governor was endorsed by 23 city council members including nine Queens council members. Other Democrats chose to support other candidates, such as U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Kew Gardens), who backs Clark, and state Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D-Bayside), who supports Lieberman.
Councilman Eric Gioia (D-Sunnyside) agreed with Liu and said there is still time for a Dean recovery. He said the Queens County Democratic Organization was right to back Dean.
It is always easier to play Monday morning quarterback, Gioia said. But I think it is important that people keep the long term in mind.
Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at news@times
©2004 Community News Group
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