|11-16-2004, 03:56 PM||#1|
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Join Date: Nov 2003
Former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb considering running for head of DNC
Former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb is one of several leaders being considered to head the Democratic Party.
Sources say other top contenders for the Democratic National Committee chairmanship include former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean; Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack; Virginia Gov. Mark Warner; former Bill Clinton aide Harold Ickes; California Democratic Chairman Art Torres; and former AT&T executive Leo Hindery.
Current chairman Terry McAuliffe's term is ending after a national election in which Republicans retained control of the White House, Senate and House of Representatives.
"There's a huge power vacuum," said Craig Hughes, a Denver political consultant who worked as a DNC staffer.
Webb, who was term-limited out of office last year, confirmed Monday that he's contemplating a bid for the job once held by former Colorado Gov. Roy Romer.
Jesse Jackson, Sen.-elect Barack Obama and the Congressional Black Caucus urged him to throw in his hat, said former Webb aide Mike Dino.
Dino said it helps that Webb isn't a Northeasterner and noted that Webb has long criticized the party for giving up on the West and ignoring its issues.
"In light of the election results, I think people should be looking to the West for some leadership," he said.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Mark Udall said Webb, an African-American, is "the face of the party in many ways."
"He's a Westerner; he's a minority. Those two, in tandem, are powerful symbols," he said. "I'd be proud to support him. I don't think we could do much better."
Others say Webb doesn't have the energy his ailing party needs after being trounced earlier this month.
"He's not current. He's not fresh. He's not particularly media savvy. His vernacular is not a values language. He doesn't have a national audience or following," said Denver political consultant Eric Sondermann. "I would assume that the Democratic Party has higher profile and far more promising possibilities."
Aside from his tenure as Denver's mayor, Webb has served as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National Conference of Black Mayors. He currently runs a private consulting business and serves as a vice-chair of the DNC.
Webb passed on a chance to run for U.S. Senate this year and has shown no interest in running for other elected offices in Colorado. Four years ago, during Al Gore's run for the presidency, Webb said he'd like to be named secretary of state.
His ties in the party may help him among the hundreds of members who will choose a new chairperson in February. Many committee members are African-American and former mayors.
To snag the job, Webb must convince his fellow partisans that he can raise the hundreds of millions of dollars required for Democrats to take back several governor's offices, congressional seats and the presidency in 2008.
Also at issue is Webb's slow speaking style and reserved personality.
"The question is whether voters want to see Wellington Webb representing their vision of the party on 'Meet the Press,"' said Denver political consultant Rick Ridder, who ran the early stages of Dean's presidential bid.
Dean has been outspoken in saying that Democrats must do a better job distinguishing themselves from Republicans. The DNC chairman must pledge to serve the full four-year term, which would rule out a 2008 presidential bid for Dean.
While some DNC members embrace Dean's progressive agenda, others "may not be on board" with his liberal views, Hughes said.
Speaking from Washington on Monday, Mike Stratton - the Democratic operative who led Attorney General Ken Salazar's successful bid for U.S. Senate - said Hindery "is getting a lot of traction" in the jockeying for the DNC chairmanship or possibly a behind-the-scenes role as the party's top executive.
Staff writer Mike Soraghan contributed to this report.
Staff writer Susan Greene can be reached at 303-820-1589 or email@example.com .