Howard Dean Biography

Governor, Doctor (1948–)
American politician Howard Dean is best known for his tenure as Governor of Vermont and running for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination.


Howard Dean was born on November 17, 1948, in New York City. He worked as a physician for many years while pursuing a career in politics as a Democrat. His political roles included working as an elected official in the Vermont House of Representatives, serving as Vermont's lieutenant governor and Vermont's governor from the 1980s through early 2000s. Dean ran unsuccessfully for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination. He served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 2005 and continues to participate in Democratic activities.


Born November 17, 1948 in New York City, Howard Brush Dean III grew up alongside his three brothers and attended high school at Saint George's Boarding School in Newport, Rhode Island. He received his undergraduate degree from Yale University in 1971 and his M.D. from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1978.

Dean was a practicing physician from 1981 to 1991, during which time he also became actively involved in politics. A Democrat, Dean was elected to the Vermont House of Representatives in 1983, where he served until 1986. He then served as Vermont's Lieutenant Governor from 1986 to 1991 and as Governor from 1991 to 2002.

By leading Vermont with firm fiscal discipline, Howard Dean paid off an inherited $70 million deficit for the state. He also succeeded in guaranteeing health coverage for children and signed into law one of the country's toughest managed-care consumer protections. However, Dean's governorship is best remembered for the passage of a civil unions law in 2000, which gave same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples. 

In 2003, he announced his candidacy for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination. Through his emphasis on healthcare, opposition to the Iraq War, and pioneering grassroots online fundraising to fight the influence of lobbyists, he re-energized the Democrats' activist base. Despite gaining momentum and raising a total of $50 million for his campaign — mostly from small donations — Dean experienced a major setback when he came in third during the Iowa caucuses, purportedly due to his over-enthused 'Dean Scream' media gaffe, which the networks replayed repeatedly to his detriment. A year later he stepped out of the race and went on to support John Kerry

From 2005 to 2009, he headed the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and successfully implemented the 50 State Strategy, which aimed for Democrats to be competitive in places considered Republican-dominated territory. As a result, during the midterms in 2006, Democrats won the House back and gained seats in the Senate. In 2008 Barack Obama also used the same strategy to win his presidential bid. Since retiring from public service, Dean has worked in the private sector as an independent consultant for public policy and government affairs. He has also appeared as a spokesperson and guest host on MSNBC news programs such as The Rachel Maddow Show. After the election of Donald Trump in 2016, Dean threw his hat in the ring as a candidate to lead the DNC again.

A member of the Congregationalist church, Dean resides with his wife, Judith Steinberg-Dean, and their two children in Burlington, Vermont.

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