DEAN
Morry Gash  /  AP file
Once the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, Howard Dean has yet to win a primary or a caucus.
updated 2/7/2004 6:26:26 PM ET 2004-02-07T23:26:26

The head of a major union that gave an early boost to Howard Dean’s presidential campaign told the former Vermont governor on Saturday that he would withdraw his union’s support, dealing a major blow to the Democrat’s faltering campaign, The Associated Press has learned.

Gerald McEntee, head of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, delivered the news to Dean in a meeting with two other unions whose support has been propping up the former governor’s campaign, said two Democratic officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The officials said McEntee is worried about the impact of Dean’s ailing campaign on the union. McEntee voiced his concerns in a meeting during the day with Roy Neel, Dean’s campaign manager, these sources added.

No official comment on union's plans
AFSCME spokeswoman Roberta Heine had no comment on the union’s plans, but said of the meeting: “They discussed the future of the campaign and they reaffirmed their commitment to beating George Bush.”

Andy Stern, who heads the Service Employees International Union, and a leader of the Union of Painters and Allied Trades attended the meeting, along with Dean and campaign director Roy Neel.

After faltering in Iowa and New Hampshire, Dean made little effort to compete in Saturday’s caucuses in Michigan or Washington. Nor does he plan to contest primaries next Tuesday in Virginia and Tennessee.

In an early-morning e-mail on Thursday, he told his Internet-savvy supporters he would make Wisconsin his last stand and appealed for a fresh infusion of cash to buy advertising needed to contest Kerry there. Wisconsin’s primary is Feb. 17.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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