(CNSNews.com) - One year ago, Democratic presidential contender Howard Dean had a paid staff of seven employees and 432 identified supporters. Today the campaign employs 400 and has more than a half-million followers.
In the last year, Dean has gone from underdog to frontrunner among the Democratic field of candidates. With leads in both Iowa's Jan. 19 caucuses and New Hampshire's Jan. 27 primary, pundits now consider the Democratic nomination Dean's to lose.
Earlier this week, the Dean campaign surpassed the its own fund-raising record by ending the fourth quarter of 2003 by raising more than $15 million. Dean had raised $14.8 million in the third quarter.
"Last January, no one would have believed what you have done was possible - raising $40 million and building a campaign of more than 550,000 people united in taking our country back," Dean said in a note to supporters. "We have gone through the most extraordinary year in any presidential campaign's history."
Last year Dean ended 2002 with $156,812 cash on hand and a yearly total of $314,052. The campaign was headquartered above the Vermont Pub and Brewery in Burlington, and it had no state offices.
In a letter to supporters summing up last year's accomplishments, Dean raved about the campaign's growth. For instance, there are now offices in 24 states.
Dean obliterated Democratic fund-raising records in 2003. His campaign now holds the record for money raised in a quarter and over a one-year period.
He also picked up endorsements from former Vice President Al Gore, 30 members of Congress and six statewide elected officials, including New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey.
Only his fellow Democratic contender, Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.), has more support in Congress. And Dean has challenged Gephardt's longtime support with unions by picking up support from the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, the Service Employees International Union, and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.
"This election is not about changing presidents; it's about changing America," Dean wrote to his supporters. "It's about all of us coming together to restore our democracy."
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