December 14 2004, 7:17 AM
Former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb is just one of many candidates to replace Terry McAuliffe as chair of the Democratic National Committee. But early indications are that he is one of the most serious candidates. Political bloggers Jerome Armstrong and Matt Stoller attended the recent meeting of Democratic Party state chairs in Orlando, and conducted an informal poll of potential DNC chair voters. 37 of the 58 potential voters at the Orlando conference participated; there are a total of 447 people (the membership of the Democratic National Committee itself) who get to vote. Webb came in tied for first in the informal poll with former Vermont Governor and presidential candidate Howard Dean. Former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk was close behind. Webb's popularity with the state chairs is partially a function of the fact that he favors taking power away from the DNC in Washington and giving more money and authority to the state parties -- in Orlando he bemoaned the fact that Georgia received only $5,000 from the DNC for the entire 2004 campaign. It also doesn't hurt that Webb is an African-American and a Westerner, which could make him more appealing to DNC members who dislike the idea of a white Easterner as the face of the party for the next four years. Webb's early endorsement of Howard Dean in the 2004 presidential election might prove to be his ace in the hole. Dean has a hard core of devoted supporters, but there are many in the DNC who for various reasons don't want him in the top spot. Webb might win as a compromise candidate, because as a Dean supporter himself he ought to be acceptable to Dean's fervent backers.