"He told me he was thinking about it," Steve Grossman, himself a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said Monday. Grossman was a Dean backer during the former Vermont governor's failed presidential bid.
Dean, who was in Albany, New York, Monday night to give a speech, said he hasn't decided about the top party job, noting he'd received thousands of e-mails urging him to try for it. He said he's still uncertain about his future.
"It's a lot easier to run for president when you don't know what you're getting into," he said. "I will stay involved, believe me."
During his Albany speech, Dean said President Bush's re-election is not a mandate to ignore the views of those who voted against him.
"We're not retreating. We're not giving up," Dean told an audience of nearly 1,000. "We're not going to stop fighting, because we're going to stand up for ordinary Americans even though the President doesn't."
Earlier Monday, his spokeswoman, Laura Gross, said "it was far too early to be speculating" on Dean's becoming party chairman. "The election was less than a week ago."
The roughly 240 members of the DNC will elect a new chair early next year. Several names are already being mentioned, including former Clinton aide Harold Ickes; Donna Brazile, who ran Al Gore's presidential campaign, and Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack.
Grossman said it is not too soon for Democrats to focus on their future leadership.
"I strongly urged (Dean) to seek the position," he said. "Howard is a voice of political empowerment and that to me is important, for the Democrats to get their sea legs back as quickly as possible, to get beyond the disappointment of the last week and to believe there is a bright future ahead for the Democratic Party."
Dean has been outspoken since the beginning of his presidential bid in saying that the Democratic Party must establish a separate and unique identity from Republicans.
Grossman said that if Dean were to run for DNC chair, he would need to pledge that he would serve the full four-year term, thus ruling out a presidential bid in 2008.
The next chairman will replace Terry McAuliffe, whose term is ending.
By Christopher Graff