Donnie Fowler
Eric Risberg  /  AP
Donnie Fowler, a 37-year-old from South Carolina who is vying to lead the Democratic National Committee, is the son of former DNC chairman Don Fowler.
updated 1/31/2005 1:03:52 AM ET 2005-01-31T06:03:52

Howard Dean’s campaign to become Democratic Party chairman took a detour Sunday when a group of state party leaders backed rival candidate Donnie Fowler.

The executive committee of state party chairs voted to endorse Fowler, a 37-year-old Democratic activist who headed Democrat John Kerry’s successful campaign in Michigan last year.

Fowler has worked on campaigns in more than a dozen states and is the son of former Democratic National Committee chairman Donald Fowler of South Carolina.

The executive committee’s nod for Fowler will be considered Monday morning in a conference call by the state Democratic chairs as a group.

Dean, a 2004 presidential candidate and former Vermont governor, has already gotten the backing of state party chairs in Vermont, Washington state, Florida, Oklahoma and Mississippi — who didn’t wait for the group vote. And he has the backing of dozens of other DNC members.

Reservations over Dean
But some Democrats have expressed reservations about Dean leading the party and have been looking for a way to stop the presidential candidate who was front-runner until his collapse in the Iowa primaries.

Fowler said the vote from the chairs suggests any aura of “inevitably is over” for Dean’s candidacy. Former Texas Congressman Martin Frost, thought by some to be the alternative to Dean, is hoping for a boost from organized labor when the AFL-CIO decides this week whether to endorse.

Dean spokeswoman Laura Gross said Dean has gotten support from party leaders from various parts of the country and expects more.

Seven candidates are in the running for the chairman’s job, with the election set for Feb. 12.

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