Video: The future of the Democratic Party

updated 11/10/2008 3:49:30 PM ET 2008-11-10T20:49:30

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean plans to step down from his post when his term expires in January, aides said Monday.

Dean, a physician and former Vermont governor who was briefly his party's presidential front-runner in 2004, was elected DNC chairman in 2005 and has long vowed to serve only one, four-year term. At a postelection news conference in Washington last week, Dean indicated again that he didn't plan to stay on.

President-elect Obama, a Democrat, was expected to choose Dean's successor. Traditionally, the president selects the national chairman of his own party.

Dean was the architect of a "50-State Strategy," investing money and staff in every state — including those where Democrats had long fared poorly — to build party infrastructure and lay the groundwork for electoral gains. The Obama campaign, working with DNC organizers in all 50 states, won several states that had not elected a Democratic president in decades, including Virginia, North Carolina and Indiana.

State party chairs were generally thrilled with Dean's approach, while some Democratic leaders in Washington complained early on that the party's money would be better spent helping candidates who had a real chance of winning.

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