"People think Texas is George W. Bush country," Dean told hundreds packed into the Houston International Theatre School on Saturday. "But right now, 40 percent of Texans would vote for a yellow dog before they place a vote for George W. Bush."
Criticizing the Bush administration for failures in education, health care, job creation and national security, the former Vermont governor said his visit was part of his grass-roots "Democracy For America" campaign to promote progressive activism to challenge Republicans in office.
"This is about ordinary people running for office, because politics is too important to be left to professional politicians," Dean said. "Even in the most conservative county in Texas."
He said Democrats should follow the strategy of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and the Christian Coalition by running a candidate for every public office available, whether it's a seat on a local library board or in Congress.
Dean also was here to stump for U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston and candidate Richard Morrison, who is challenging House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.
Jackson Lee praised Dean for empowering the Democratic Party.
"I attribute to him what has now been finalized by a bipartisan (9/11) commission: that America has not yet reached its promise," Jackson Lee said.
Dean made it clear his visit was to lend Jackson Lee the same support she offered during the primaries. He said she remained loyal after unexpected primary losses in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.
"Loyalty means a lot to me and there's not a whole lot in politics," Dean said after a Jackson Lee fund-raiser in Montrose. "But this was a whole lot more than political back-scratching."
Dean was referring to his "Dean's Dozen" program, which supports fiscally conservative, socially progressive candidates at all levels of government regardless of their potential to win. His support of Morrison, he said, epitomizes the incrementalist approach.
"I think about the most progressive thing you can do is run an aggressive campaign against Tom DeLay," said Morrison, who will host Dean at a political rally in Sugar Land today. "I think the visit will really raise awareness about my campaign against Mr. DeLay."