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Democrats' National Chair Steve Grossman resigns

By Brad Wright/CNN

WASHINGTON (December 2) -- Steve Grossman announced Wednesday his decision to step down as national chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Grossman helped engineer upset victories over Republicans in congressional elections in November.

Steve Grossman  

Grossman, who informed President Bill Clinton of his decision Tuesday night, said family concerns weighed heavily in his decision, citing the ill health of his 79-year-old father and business partner, Edgar Grossman, who "has been engaged in a debilitating bout with Parkinson's disease for the past 15 years or so."

Who succeeds Grossman and when are the pressing questions for the DNC now.

Colorado Gov. Roy Romer, who serves as general chairman of the DNC, thought it was likely that Clinton, as the de facto leader of the party, will choose a candidate and ask the members of the committee to endorse the choice. Romer said he hoped that whoever gets the job will be approved before the DNC's next scheduled meeting in March.

Grossman said he will stay long enough to ensure a smooth transfer. "Bottom line: I'm staying in this position until there has been an orderly transition," he said. "We are not going to lose the momentum we have now."

Vice President Al Gore called Grossman's resignation a "loss for the Democratic Party." In a statement, Gore detailed Grossman's achievements and said he was "instrumental in putting forward the issues that Americans care about."

Grossman played a major role in the Democrats' upset victories this fall over Republicans, who felt they were in position to expand their majorities in both houses of Congress. Instead, they lost seats in the House and hung on to a 55-45 majority in the Senate.

Grossman credited smart campaign strategies, including vigorous voter turnout efforts, for the stunning victory which sparked a House GOP leadership fight and the resignation of Speaker Newt Gingrich.

"If you examine the reasons why we were so successful on November 3rd," Grossman said, "it had everything to do with winning the ground war. We were outspent by $110 million yet we won the ground war. We invested resources wisely; we won the right races in the right places."

Grossman took over at DNC in January 1997, a time when the Democratic Party was saddled with about $18 million in debt. He said that debt was whittled down to almost nothing. After a successful campaign this year, Grossman said the DNC will carry about $8 million in debt into the next calendar year.

Romer said he was surprised when he got the call from Grossman Wednesday morning about his resignation. That appeared to suggest that no candidate to succeed Grossman is waiting in the wings. But Grossman offered some friendly guidelines for choosing a candidate.

"I do think there is something to be said for those who have significant experience at state level and have run campaigns or have been deeply involved in grass roots political campaigns and who have actual hands-on experience," Romer said.

Asked whether he would raise money for Gore's expected 2000 presidential run, Grossman said he would continue to work for Democrats while in his committee post. But he added he would be willing to have "another conversation" once he leaves.



RELATED SITES

DNC Web site

DNC's biography of Steve Grossman



MORE STORIES:

Wednesday, December 2, 1998

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