ALTOONA - Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said Wednesday Democrats must focus on winning legislative seats and called on union members to knock on doors frequently and get to know voters personally.
Dean, who spoke at the Iowa Federation of Labor's annual convention in Altoona, said statehouse campaigns need to run as if every legislative candidate were running for president and stressed that it is important for Democrats to counter Republican efforts to change voting rules and other measures.
"If you have to resort to disenfranchising people to win, you should live in some other country because this is still a democracy and I intend to ensure it stays that way," he said.
Formal presidential candidate Howard Dean speaks during the Iowa Federation of Labor convention, Wednesday, in Altoona.
Dean said he's working to take back legislative seats in states that lost ground in 2010 and "add some more thoughtful people to some of these places where you're hearing this radical rhetoric."
In Iowa Democrats control the Senate by a thin 26 to 24 majority. Republicans control a House majority 53 to 47 seats. Dean said Iowa is fortunate to have a Democratic Senate which puts the brakes on the "radical right, which seems to be dominating the agenda in the other body." Dean said the 2010 elections were difficult for Democrats as the economy continued to suffer and voters lashed out against the party in power.
Now, he said it's important for Democrats to mobilize by recruiting strong statehouse candidates to win back seats and give Democrats control again.
"Money is not what we need the most. What we really need is you," he told the audience of union members. "We need everybody knocking on doors and talking to their neighbors."