'Blue Dot in a Red Sea'

Democracy for America Chairman Jim Dean endorsed Democratic candidate Gary Anderson for Mississippi Insurance Commissioner last week during a visit to Anderson's campaign headquarters.

Dean told the Jackson Free Press that he and the pro-Democratic organization Democracy for America endorsed Anderson because of his pledges to take no campaign donations from insurance companies, and to give policyholders easy-to-read language without small-print pitfalls.

"That is a message that the whole nation could agree with," said Dean, whose organization has helped raise $7,000 for Anderson's campaign. "Many insurance commissioners get campaign contributions from insurance companies. Many talk about rates the one or two times a year that it comes up, or they talk about plain English policies. ... When Gary talks about that, I think about a lot of other places where voters, both Republicans and Democrats, would respond very positively."

DFA is a political action committee inspired by the 2004 presidential campaign of former Vermont Governor Howard Dean. Dean's campaign made waves as one of the first truly grass-roots political efforts in decades, setting new records in private versus business contributions. His campaign faltered following the Ohio primaries, but his effort—formally Dean for America—sparked the Democracy for America PAC.

DFA pushes for grass-roots intervention in elections and advocates for socially progressive candidates at all levels of government.

Anderson's opponent, Republican Mike Chaney, said he also wants to provide an easy-to-read insurance policy as part of a bigger consumer's rights package. Chaney argues that he also accepts no insurance money from national insurance companies like State Farm and Allstate, but would accept donations from local insurance retailers. While Chaney says there is a marked difference between corporations and retailers, Anderson makes no distinction.

While in town, Dean offered some tidbits of his view on national politics. He stood by his claim that Democrats will likely cut into territory formerly dominated by Republicans this year and in 2008.

"I think voters are still pretty independent. Only a few are loyal left or loyal right, so if I find a candidate is out there talking good government, good process, that's going to capture a lot of voters, including a few who lean Republican," Dean said. "I don't buy that little blue dot in a red sea thing anyhow. It may look like that during registration, but I feel there are always legions of voters ready to get out there and do the right thing."

Anderson said Dean's boast echoed his campaign's polling data.

"We've polled 800 people who will vote in November—Democrats, Republican and independents—and we found in our polling that 41 percent of the population identifies themselves as Republican or they lean to the Republican way, while 37 percent defined themselves as Democrats or as leaning Democratic, with the remaining 22 percent calling themselves independent," Anderson said. "We've identified Republicans voting (for) Anderson in November, as well as independents and Democrats. Our message of lower insurance rates and clear policies is resonating with on all sides."

While commenting on national issues, Dean said he was not ready to call the health-care formulas proposed by some Democratic presidential candidates "full-blown socialized health care." Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has proposed a national government health-care plan mandating every American have some form of insurance, either through a private insurance provider or a purchasing pool set up and maintained by the government.

"I wouldn't characterize any of their plans as sending in a for-profit company to do a government's job, but I would call it a step toward the next stage, sort of a move in the right direction," Dean said.

Dean also spoke against the benefits the new Democratically controlled Congress would have reaped had Republicans invoked the "nuclear option," limiting the power of filibustering and giving majority parties easy victories in congressional disputes. He said he stands by his opinion, even though the Republican minority has filibustered more than 40 bills since Democrats took control last November.

I don't think we should have let them invoke the nuclear option," Dean said. "I think (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi was right not to even revisit this thing again. If we're going to get anything done in Congress it's not about having only Democrats or only Republicans in it. It's about getting back that sense of working together that we've really lost under this (current) administration."


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