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  Dem ‘family politics’ blocks Dean at HHS
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Last EditedScott³  Feb 18, 2009 10:25am
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News DateTuesday, February 17, 2009 04:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionThe Hill.

"Several senior Senate Democrats have intensified their push for Howard Dean to become the next secretary of Health and Human Services, but the effort has run into what Dean allies call Democratic “family politics.”

Senate Democratic heavyweights such as Tom Harkin (Iowa) and Patrick Leahy (Vt.) say that Dean, a doctor who focused on healthcare during his decade as Vermont’s governor, would make for a perfect choice.

But conservative Senate Democrats are leery of Dean and privately question whether he would be able to work with centrists such as Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) to pass far-reaching reform.

Dean has built up a pile of political chits from his four-year stint as one of the most successful Democratic Party chairmen in recent history.

During Dean’s four years at the helm of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the party captured the White House, Senate and House. Democrats picked up 13 Senate seats and more than 50 House seats in the 2006 and 2008 elections.

Despite this, White House officials say that Dean is not among the front-runners to succeed former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) as President Obama’s choice for Health and Human Services, according to Democratic sources.
Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is considered the front-runner to head the department, say those sources. John Podesta, who managed the presidential transition, and former Clinton administration Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew are said to be well ahead of Dean on the shortlist.

This has not sat well with Dean’s inner circle.

“It’s damn near disrespectful,” said a Democrat close to Dean who has played a prominent role in national Democratic politics. “Tell me, who has been a more successful modern-day chairman?”
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