He was the Lieutenant Governor of Vermont from 1987 to 1991, and a member of the Vermont House of Representatives from 1983 to 1986. In the 2004 election, Dean was the top fundraiser and front runner, prior to the Iowa caucus, for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. Although his presidential campaign was unsuccessful, Dean pioneered Internet-based fundraising and grassroots organizing, which is centered on mass appeal to small donors which is more cost efficient than the more expensive contacting of fewer potential larger donors, and promotes active participatory democracy among the general public. He used these methods when founding Democracy for America, a progressive political action committee, in 2004.
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