Gov. Howard Dean, M.D. was born on November 17, 1948 in New York City. Dean received his medical degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1978 and in 1981 he married fellow doctor Judith Steinberg, whom he had met in medical school. Together they began a family medical practice in Shelburne, Vermont. Dr. Steinberg continues to practice there.

Dean entered politics in 1982 when he was elected to the Vermont House of Representatives as a Democrat. He was elected lieutenant governor of Vermont in 1986. Both were part-time positions that enabled him to continue practicing medicine.

In 1991, Dean became Governor of Vermont when Richard A. Snelling died in office. Dean was subsequently re-elected five times and served as governor until 2003, making him the second longest-serving governor in Vermont history, after Thomas Chittenden.

During his tenure as governor, Vermont paid off much of its public debt, had a balanced budget 11 times, and reduced income taxes twice.

While governor, Dean also oversaw the expansion of Vermont’s “Dr. Dynasaur” program, which makes universal health care available for children and pregnant women in the state. The program resulted in the uninsured rate in Vermont dropping to 9.6%, half the national average. Also, the availability of proper medical care provided by the program has helped reduce rates of child abuse and teen pregnancy by half.

Dean served as chairman of the National Governors Association from 1994 to 1995.

In 2003, Governor Dean initiated a campaign for the Democratic nomination for the office of President of the United States. After coming up short in the early primaries and caucuses, Dean abandoned his run for the office, but not the thousands of supporters he had attracted. In March of 2004, Dean founded Democracy for America so that these supporters could remain an organized and effective force on the American political landscape.

The primary focus of Democracy for America was, and remains to this day, to promote citizen ownership of government at all levels. This is accomplished through training and supporting ordinary citizens so they can fully engage in the political process, influence elected officials and their constituents, and run for elected office. Democracy for America also works to support candidates dedicated to this ideal all over the country.

Dean was elected Chairman of the Democratic National Committee on February 12, 2005. Here he founded the party’s 50-State Strategy. The goal was for the Democratic Party to be committed to winning elections at every level in every region of the country, not just the states required to win presidential elections, and to organize Democrats in every single voting precinct in the country. State party chairs have lauded Dean for the program and the DNC’s renewed support of their efforts to elect Democrats in their states.

While DNC chair, Dean traveled extensively throughout the country to support the strategy which resulted in numerous electoral victories for Democrats, even in places like Alaska, Mississippi, and Indiana, states in which Republicans had long dominated the political landscape.

The 50-State Strategy relied on the idea that building the Democratic Party is at once an incremental election by election process as well as a long-term vision in party building. Democrats cannot compete in counties in which they do not field candidates. Therefore, candidate recruitment was a major component of the strategy. Dean’s strategy was to identify and support young and committed candidates at the local level, building them into viable candidates that would succeed in future state races.

On November 10, 2008, Gov. Dean announced that he would not seek an additional term as DNC Chair.

Since returning to the private sector, Dr. Dean has not slowed down or entered retirement. Instead, he has returned to Democracy for America and has committed to establishing affordable and accessible health care for all Americans as his number one goal.

The petition and website are the first steps in a multi-pronged campaign to ensure that any health care reforms passed by the Obama administration include a universally available public insurance option similar to the highly effective Medicare system.

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