Dean's many offspring

The campaign may be dead, but it seems the political legacy of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is still kicking.

The reason the Dean campaign mattered, despite its spectacular implosion, is that it brought new people into politics and connected them to one another at the community level, teaching them grassroots organizing along the way. The Dean campaign also has spawned something else: a new group of candidates and local party leaders.

"We're actively encouraging people to run for office," Dean tells CL. "We have 600 people around the country, at least. ... We are very aggressively trying to move forward in states that are not on the battleground list, and Georgia is one of those."

Two former Deaniacs are running for the state Legislature. Camille Kokozaki contends for the empty District 40 state Senate seat, which spans northern Gwinnett and western DeKalb counties. Kokozaki, 48, who owns his own business, faces Democrat Rick Garnitz in the primary.

The Dean experience gave Kokozaki confidence that he could run a race and introduced him, through Internet interest-matchmaker Meetup.com, to like-minded neighbors. Deaniacs wound up using Meetup in an unprecedented way to build their movement.

Don McDaniel, 37, also has qualified to run in House District 97 against Republican Rep. Brooks Coleman. McDaniel is treasurer for Georgia for Democracy (formerly Georgians for Dean).

"I've lived in the district eight years, and I've never seen my representative or received any communication from him," McDaniel says. With the Dean campaign, "we were building a community, not just a candidate." He plans to try to duplicate that face-to-face political model in his bid for the state House.

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