Former Vermont Governor Madeleine May Kunin writes about the Howard Dean she knows…
So who is the real Howard Dean?
I have known him since he first ran for the state legislature from Burlington. We both had the same mentor, Esther Sorrell, who ran for the state Senate after working behind the scenes in Vermont for decades for every brave Democrat who ran and lost.
Vermont was once the strongest one party state north of the Mason-Dixon line. Esther lived to see the change from Republican to Democrat. She was crazy about Jimmy Carter and Howard got involved in that campaign.
Then I knew him as my Lt. Governor. He didn’t make a lot of headlines in that job, but he did it well. His real chance came through tragedy. Governor Richard Snelling had succeeded me and died suddenly on an August day at the edge of his swimming pool. From one moment to the next, Dean was taking the oath of office to be Governor of Vermont.
I have seen him mature, both as a politician and a human being. I think he is smart, a quick study of issues and a good problem solver. He is supremely confident. He treats people well, surrounds himself with good people, and has good judgment. He knows how to build consensus and diffuse tension. And, he listens.
When I was Governor, I had the opportunity to appoint a record number of women. Howard not only kept my appointees, he topped my record. By the time he left office, a woman had served, at one time or another, as the head of every agency.
Do I think he can win the nomination?
It depends. He was the first candidate to raise the important issues that now are the themes of almost every man who is running. His strength is that he can connect with people, he has brought thousands of young people into the process, and he knows what matters most to the public.
If the campaign returns to the issues and does not continue to exact a thousand cuts of negative campaigning, I think he has an excellent chance. His incredible organization is a huge plus. And his passion, which occasionally has gotten him into trouble, is also a plus. This man cares, and he cares deeply.
Having watched him grow over the years, I believe he will grow into the highest office of the land, the Presidency.