ILLUSTRATION BY JOE CIARDIELLO FOR USN&WR
Phew! What started as a groundbreaking but controversial bid to set up Democratic Party offices in every state, even red ones, has been completed, and party boss Howard Dean has the frequent-flier miles to prove it. Exactly 528,468, after a brief visit to Hawaii last month, his 50th and final state to organize. "And those," he says, "don't include the international trips." Recall that his "50-State Plan" was slapped around in 2006 when party leaders wanted Dean to stop adding offices in GOP states and instead fund House and Senate races. He did both, and now the Democrats control Congress and have full-time officials around the nation. That should help the eventual party nominee, he says. "We do have a field operation in every state, so nobody's going to have to come in to a state and ask which way to the bathroom," says Dean.
Over 35 months, the 2004 presidential hopeful and ex-Vermont guv learned some tricks, like: Don't check luggage. "I go someplace for two weeks, and I don't check luggage, though that usually involves a laundromat." Fly early; know your route. He's so air-smart, friends joke that he should run the Federal Aviation Administration.
"It'll be worth it if we win," he says of his travels. "I like to work hard," Dean adds. "That way, if you don't win, at least you've done everything possible you could to win."