Former Vermont governor and Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean is throwing his weight behind Democratic candidates in the 2013 House of Delegates election.
Dean, who lost the Democratic primary for president in 2004, announced Tuesday that his organizaton Democracy for America will give support to five Democratic candidates this year as part of the groups "Purple to Blue Project" - a multi-year national effort to win help Democrats win back majorities in state legislatures controlled by Republicans in swing states.
In Virginia Democrats are a super-minority in the House, where they hold 31 of the chambers 100 seats.
"After two years of responding to the right wing attacks coming out of Richmond, Virginians are ready to stand up and fight back," Dean said in a conference call with reporters. "Victory in Democracy for America's Purple to Blue targeted races in 2013 will send a powerful message to Republicans across the country: If you wage war on women, working families, and the right to vote in the Statehouse, progressives will defeat you at the ballot box."
Democracy for America plans to spend more than $750,000 in five races and provide volunteers and technological expertise to the Democratic campaigns.
"Democracy for America's Purple to Blue project will target Republicans who have enabled and participated in an extreme right-wing takeover of the House of Delegates," said Nick Passanante, director of the Purple to Blue Project. "These Republicans are simply out of step with mainstream Virginia, which is why DFA's 21,000 members in Virginia and 1 million members nationwide will provide the grassroots resources and be the boots on the ground to restore common sense to this critical state." The group announced the first two candidates it is backing.
The first is Jennifer Boysko, who is challenging Del. Thomas Rust, R-Fairfax, in the state's 86th House District.
Ramadan is a freshman delegate who won his seat in 2011 by a razor-thin 51 vote margin.
Passanante said the organization would announce the three additional candidates it will be working to elect in the next month. He said he sees opportunities in Hampton Roads.
"I want the thank Governor Dean and Democracy for America for their continued help, commitment, and guidance," said Jody Murphy, director of the Virginia Democrats House Caucus. "We have an opportunity this cycle to make significant pickups and elect Progressive Democrats in the Virginia House who will fight for Virginia's families."