While Bush takes a siesta, Howard Dean is sleepless

Look out, Dubya, Howard Dean is treading on your turf. But while President Bush kicks back for a nap at his Crawford ranch, Dean, a Democratic presidential candidate and former Vermont governor, swings his "Sleepless Summer" campaign through Texas later this month. Dean will visit San Antonio August 25.

La Villita Assembly Hall
418 La Villita St.
August 25
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And thanks to Dean's successful grassroots campaign and Internet savvy, thousands of Texans are ready to greet him: from moderate Republicans to Libertarians, Democrats to Greens, college students voting for the first time to older voters who cast their ballots for George McGovern in 1972.

Matt Glazer, a 21-year-old Trinity University student, is working on Dean's campaign in Bexar County. He said Dean's web presence has tapped into an entire generation of voters ignored by the Gephardt-Lieberman-Graham axis of Ludditeness. "I don't think anybody realized how important the Internet is until McCain ran in 2000 and now with Dean," Glazer said. "We're the point-and-click generation."

With 8,000 petition signatures, Dean has qualified to appear on the Texas ballot. Former state legislator Glen Maxey, who is working on Dean's Texas campaign, said that the Web has enabled him to reach far more potential supporters than a phone tree would have accomplished. "I have an entire fraternity house working for Howard Dean. If I tried to call those kids I couldn't find them," Maxey said.

And now for the message: Dean directly opposes Bush's stance on the war in Iraq, tax cuts, health care, the economy, and civil rights. "Texans want people who will talk directly to them about the issues," Maxey said. "Dean has tapped into a real anger about what's happening in the country and globally."

Dean's appeal crosses party lines and he is resonating with new voters; his Web site lists such links as "African Americans for Dean," "Med Students for Dean," and "Progressive Christians for Dean," even "Republicans for Dean."

"The issue is new people," Maxey said. "I just got off the phone with a Libertarian who wants to organize in Brownsville. He's afraid of the Patriot Act. A president of the Rotary Club in Lufkin is worried about East Texas and jobs. We have farm workers in the valley."

Maxey said he believes Dean can court the much-coveted Hispanic vote in Texas and elsewhere, primarily through precinct- and neighborhood-level organizing. "I don't know that you have to talk to Hispanics differently than anybody else when talking about the issues. They're concerned about jobs and education and the economy."

Dean's support of civil unions - as Vermont governor, he signed a law recognizing this legal ceremony for gays and lesbians `See "A civil action," Current, September 26-October 2, 2002` - could be a vulnerability in Texas. •


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