Former Vermont governor Howie Dean left Sacramento and the state Democratic convention on a cloud, having felt the applause of a standing ovation wash over him during his speech before the 2,000 or so delegates and gawkers. In fact, one the event's organizers joked that given the anti-war rhetoric at the convention, "we should have moved this to Berkeley or Beverly Hills."
Dean gave the crowd lots of anti-war tofu to chew on, but the biggest applause lines were saved for Sen.Barbara Boxer, who made it clear she is going to run for re-election in 2004.
Boxer took her Marin County message of peace at all costs to the true-believers with gusto. "This convention is by no means representative of the Democratic Party in the state of California," said a Boxer staffer in Sacramento for her speech. "These delegates are the true believers. The people Boxer has built her career on from the beginning. She doesn't have to watch her words here."
According to one state party official, there was some concern about the looming war cutting into the convention's attendance. "We were afraid most of our delegates would be marching on Washington or something," says the political staffer.
Boxer's speech was a rallying cry for peaceniks. "Peace is a California value," she said to huge applause from the crowd. As it happens, given the state's politics, Boxer probably doesn't have to watch her words much of anywhere within the state. In 1991 she voted against the war as a member of Congress, and a year later was elected to the Senate, with seemingly no harm done by what was then considered an unpopular vote.
On the other hand, she hasn't had much resistance from Republicans since then. This time around, her GOP competition might be Rep. Darrell Issa or Rep. George Radonovich. The White House has been looking for a better state-wide name to run, but has thus far come up short. A name would help, but a wallet would be even better. Boxer's staff estimates she will be looking to raise more than $20 million for her re-election bid.
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