Humpty-Dumpty, Off the Wall

Will Dean's Movement Also Fall Apart?

Hadass Tessler is still voting for Dean, but says she won't vote for Senator John Kerry in November. It's unclear whether this is residual anger for what happened to her candidate or just part of the contagious distaste Dean's supporters show for the frontrunner. Tessler is even a former supporter of Ted Kennedy's presidential bid (Kennedy actively campaigns for Kerry).

She joined a dozen other volunteers last Saturday, as a drizzle fell on Bryant Park, to remind passersby that Dean is still on the March 2 primary ballot here, and to persuade them that if enough people vote, Dean will win state delegates and carry his message to this summer's Democratic convention.

Tessler has a different beef, and it's with Dean's New York campaign director, Ethan Geto. She said she was angered that Geto, in an e-mail sent out to New York supporters, seemed to encourage a vote for the other candidates.

"I busted my chops for this guy," she said. As she spoke, a man in a flannel jacket walked by, aping Dean's infamous Iowa yowl. "If Bush wins, the Democrats deserve every bit of it."

Many Dean supporters remember their first glimpses of the man, on television, at some rally, or wherever. Hearing these wistful recollections, it's easy to guess why John Kerry just won't do, and why many of his followers seem drawn to the romance of John Edwards. Given Kerry's momentum, it may not matter much, in the short term. Before November, though, Kerry will have to figure out a way to make people like Hadass Tessler vote for him.

For the time being, the Dean campaign and its supporters, in between jabs at John Kerry, are occupied with more modest pursuits. Dean sent a note to supporters on Tuesday, asking for help with the campaign's $400,000 debt. And Teachout has challenged supporters to identify a hundred people to run for local office—candidates presumably inspired by Dean. At press time, she was up to 61. Teachout said she was considering a vacation, but not yet.

"First I have to get a bunch of folks elected," she said.

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