Obama's Choice for New Democratic Party Chairman Stirs Tensions

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine succeeds Howard Dean.

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Despite the gushing over Barack Obama, the Democratic Party isn't one big happy family. Not only are some Democrats taking issue with elements of Obama's emerging economic recovery plan, but there are lingering hard feelings in the party organization itself. These problems were evident when Obama named Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine as the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee yesterday.

Media commentators immediately noted that Howard Dean, the just departed chairman, was not at the announcement, raising the prospect that he had been snubbed. One of his antagonists has been Rahm Emanuel, now the incoming White House chief of staff for Obama. When he chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Emanuel tangled with Dean over strategy—and, apparently, hard feelings remain.

Dean's sometimes abrasive personality also didn't endear him to more than a few party insiders. Dean's supporters say he was traveling to American Samoa but would have been pleased to attend the Obama-Kaine session if he had been asked. In addition, Dean was hoping for a cabinet job in the Obama administration—perhaps as secretary of health and human services, where his background as a medical doctor would have been helpful. But he never got any of those jobs.