Fast on the heels of his breakout fundraising success, former Vermont Governor and Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean stunned political observers over the holiday weekend by reaching another milestone: attracting his first supporter who isn’t chronically stoned.
“This is good news and, frankly, we’re ahead of our own timetable,” said a Dean spokesman. “Honestly, we didn’t expect to have any supporters who aren’t ripped on weed all the time until at least the fall. At this point, we expect to make significant inroads among voters who don’t skateboard and voters who don’t wear Birkenstock sandals and hemp-based clothing within the next few weeks.”
Dean, whose dealings with the press have often been a bit testy, indicated his pleasure over the development by snarling and baring his teeth at reporters outside a Bow, N.H. diner on Sunday. And the not-wasted voter himself seems a bit bewildered by all the fuss.
“I’m just like any other Dean voter except for not having a bong on my living room table, I guess,” says James Pennig of Hartford, Connecticut, a lifelong Democrat who, he assured this reporter, has never grown a soul-patch-style beard or attempted to install grow-lights in a foil-lined closet. “I just want Governor Dean to do for America what he did for Vermont. Would George W. Bush even think of basing the U.S. economy on selling antiques, maple candy and six-dollar chocolate-chip cookies to tourists? Not likely.”
As an anti-intoxicated voter, Pennig stands in contrast to most of the Dean faithful who tend to explain their support for their candidate by blurting out a glottal “Whoa!” and mumbling something along the lines of “that Bush dude wants to drill the ozone and such.” But it’s emblematic of what each candidate must do in the coming months to expand their political base. The John Kerry campaign has spent the last few weeks setting their sights on attracting their first non-French-speaking supporter while John Edwards’ camp hopes to bring on board a voter who, upon finding out that the candidate is running for president without having finished his first and only Senate term, doesn’t break into loud, mocking laughter. Political observers expect it to be an uphill climb for both.