Dean Team Strategy Memo

Draft Memorandum –

To : Team Dean

From : Joe Trippi

Re : Calendar and

Date : April 13, 2003

The most important thing a national campaign needs to do is to stay focused and
disciplined on a strategy that involves relatively few states, when everyday there is something in all 50 states that raises the temptation to chase something we should not be chasing. This memorandum seeks, in broad outline, to provide the initial basis for developing a core strategy for the Dean effort.

It is important to remember that few successful national campaigns have garnered that success by embarking on a full blown 50 state strategy. The demand on time and resources has almost always led to failure.

Only a few figures in national politics have had, or have the ability to pull off such a feat. Fritz Mondale did it in 1984 – and still almost lost the nomination to an insurgent Hart campaign. In 2004 only Al Gore will
have the possibility of pulling it off – and in his case it will be demanded of him – not something he will seek. He will be forced to run everywhere, to lose no where, and to sustain a relatively weak candidacy through a 50 state obstacle course that is more likely to resemble a nightmare for him, than a dream.

We can not worry about any other candidacy. We must choose our course and stick to it with determination. This is a living document, it will change, as surely as the primary calendar will change, but the underlying strategy will not. The Dean candidacy must strike in the early states – and it must do so regardless of which states end up in the early states category. In the end these are the only states that matter, because if we fail to emerge early, the primary calendar provides no timeframe in which we can recover from such a failure. As daunting a task as this may seem for us – we must win a few of the early states – Al Gore must win them all – or face the real probability that the primary calendar will move so rapidly against him that the likely nominee will be the candidate who defeats Al Gore first in an early primary.

The Early States:
Rank in importance for Dean #1

January 24th
—- Iowa

February 1st—–
New Hampshire

February 3rd/4th
South Carolina

February 22nd
– Michigan


By February 23rd less than 10% of the delegates will have been selected to the national convention, but the fate, in terms of success or failure, of the Dean candidacy will be well on its way to being sealed. The fact is that within 3 weeks of this date, 67% of the delegates will be selected. By March 14th nearly 30 states will have held primaries or caucuses – if we fail to emerge prior to this 30 state delegate flood – we will never emerge. If the frontrunner falters in the early states, he will have no time to recover. If the 1984 race between Fritz Mondale and Gary Hart were replayed against the probable calendar we will face in 2004, there is no question about it – Gary Hart would be the nominee, not Mondale. It took Fritz Mondale until April 14th to win his first primary after Gary Hart’s 19% second place finish in Iowa. By April 14, 2004 over 80% of the delegates will be elected.

The implications for the Dean candidacy are clear. We must strike early and hard. In that sense we have remarkably few states \in which we stay 100% focused, and in which we must have full blown organizations.

The early states must garner the bulk of our travel schedule, the bulk of our resources, and we must build strong campaign organizations:

State Chairs, State Directors, State Field Directors, House Party Coordinators are essential in these states. Decisions about who these people are will be critical to our success, and should not be made quickly or lightly. Nothing is worse than being forced to change State Directors in these states due to a poor initial choice – and trust me some very smart people have screwed this up. Mondale, Gephardt, and Dukakis all were forced to reorganize their Iowa operations because of bad personnel decisions made in the early stages of the campaign. And that was just Iowa. Senator Kennedy literally was forced to upend all 50 of his state organizations due to the Senator’s propensity to name just about anybody who was breathing as a chair or director.

MONEY – Rank in importance to Dean #2

While it is a bit of a misnomer to rank money second, the fact is that we must focus like a laser beam on only two things – early states and money – in the early stages of our efforts. Put simply, is if isn’t an early state – and we are not going there for money – then we should not be going. House Parties are money – so going to a state to build house party organizations counts. But it is important to make this clear – IN THE REMAINING 45 STATES – THE MOST IMPORTANT POSITIONS ARE FUNDRAISING AND HOUSE PARTY ORGANIZORS. Everything else in these states can wait – for the time being. Our mantra, for now, must be early states and money. Repeat it over and over again every morning.

We will probably need in the neighborhood of $10 million to compete in the early states alone. Assuming we are successful and launch out of the early states we will have less than a month to raise and spend an additional $10 million. To be honest we need to go into the early contests with $12 to $15million. $10 million to compete and a few million to bridge the time gap between our success and the ensuing movement of money to our cause. These are not trivial numbers, but neither are they impossible to reach. It will take tremendous discipline and a real plan – and every minute that we are not in an early state must be to this end.

The Dean 15 –
Rank in importance for Dean #3

In addition to the 5 early states – we need to select 15 states and probably should select 17 states (other than Vermont) in which we concentrate our House Party strategy. To qualify for matching funds we must qualify in 20 states.

It is important to qualify in all 5 of the early states – as doing so not only helps to qualify nationally – but in these states it also allows us to build and solidify an organizational structure that must be in place for us to succeed vote wise in these states.

By targeting 17 additional states (again not counting Vermont) as “must qualify” in terms of funds raised for matching purposes, we allow a one or two state margin of error in the event that we fall through in a couple of states on our House Party Night.

In these 17 target states organizationally all we are concerned about at this stage is the House Party organization, the House Party coordinator – and the only non-organizational item we are concerned about is larger donor fundraising. We do not at this juncture need to name state chairs, state directors. What we need to identify are people with organizational skills who can organize the House Party effort, help with coordinating the Governor’s trips into the state in question, and have the political skills or knowledge to work with us to set up the early political meetings necessary in terms of etiquette and House Party building.

There are a few exceptions. New York is a notoriously difficult state to get on the ballot. It takes a large organizational commitment to get on the ballot in the state of New York – a certain number of signatures must be gained in designated counties and other obstacles will need to be hurdled to simply get Howard Dean’s name on the ballot. We must be able to use out House Party organization to move immediately to ballot signature gathering after the house parties have been concluded. The states listed below are selected using three criteria: There is a reason to believe we can implement a house party organization in the state, we will need to go to the
state often in any case for larger donor fundraising reasons, or like New York, there is an important political or organizational reason for the state to be included.

March 7 States



Idaho (caucus)




North Dakota (caucus)

New York


Rhode Island

Vermont – not
counted as a target.

Washington (caucus)

Post March 7 States

Nevada (caucus)

Minnesota (caucus)



Virginia (caucus)



This leaves over half of the states as non-targeted at this stage of the Dean effort. This does not mean that we do not go to these states. It means that for the time being we only go if there is a fundraising reason, or an overwhelming political reason to do so. It also means that we should not waste effort or resources finding state chairs, state directors etc in states that do not appear above. Ideally we would want a core fundraising group in every state in the union, and we may want to take an occasional side trip to help establish such a group in one of the non-targeted states. New Jersey and Oregon are two examples of non-target states that illustrate how we need to think about non-target states for the time being. 90% of the delegates will be elected prior to Oregon’s May 16th Primary, and 93% of the delegates will be elected prior to New Jersey’s Primary on June 6th. We will either be able to compete in these states and be a contender for the nomination before we get to them, or we will be dead. Therefore they are not and will not be targets for some time (if ever). However, if by going to Oregon we can secure Governor Kitzhaber’s endorsement, or make major fundraising inroads we should make the required trip to Oregon – otherwise it’s a no go decision. If we can energize some
fundraising capacity in NJ by stopping there on a trip to NY we should do it – otherwise spend more time in NY.

With a list of targeted states it also becomes possible to schedule the Governor more coherently. Washington, California, and Idaho are targets – we can put together a schedule through these states and decide if we want to stop in Oregon (a non-target) for fundraising or political purposes.

This will be the most difficult thing for this campaign (and the Governor) to do – we need to literally (again only for the time being) put 27 states out of sight and, for the most part, out of mind. They only appear on our schedule for fundraising or strong political reasons.

What we need to do now is go through this proposed list and make sure that I did not miss something or that there is a case to be made for a state I omitted. We may also want to talk about Massachusetts as it may not be a
target rich environment given JK’s candidacy.

We will have to revisit this target list often, as the primary calendar changes and as our own political circumstances change. Or frankly as we learn, perhaps, that its just too time consuming to try to put house parties
together in a favorite son state like Massachusetts – but there is base group in Colorado (now a non-target state) that should be activated.

I want to stress again as I did at the beginning that this is a living document, nothing is set in stone – it is simply my first look at the situation.