‘NOW AND FOREVER WHAT DEMOCRATS DO’…. Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D) formally took over as chairman of the Democratic National Committee yesterday, and the first question on the minds of many is whether he plans to break with Howard Dean’s successful 50-state strategy.

If Kaine’s remarks yesterday were any indication, party activists have reason for optimism.

As he took the reins of party chair at the winter meeting of the DNC, Kaine spoke freely about the debt he feels to Dean. “I feel like I’m taking over from somebody who just won three Super Bowls in a row,” Kaine said at the beginning of his remarks. “This fifty-state strategy that you articulated in your time has been a magnificent success.” Kaine described how Dean had invested heavily in Kaine’s gubernatorial election in 2005 and subsequent races in Virginia. He called him, “as good a chairman as this party has ever had.” […]

“The fifty-state strategy was so simple and so powerful and so true,” Kaine said…. “Every state, every community, every voter matters,” Kaine said, summarizing the philosophy. “We’ll do some new things, because we can never rest on just what worked yesterday, but we will never again, never again, write off people or states or regions. The fifty-state strategy is now and forever what Democrats do!”

At that point, the ballroom where hundreds of DNC members had gathered erupted in applause.

How Kaine plans to pursue a 50-state strategy is still unclear. Talking to reporters after yesterday’s event, the Virginia governor promised to “play strong in all 50 states,” but did not publicly commit to placing DNC staffers in every state. We’ll know more in two months, when Kaine unveils his “strategic plan” for the party.

As for Dean, he had nothing but kind words to say about Obama and Kaine, but he seemed to take one last opportunity to tweak his critics: “Barack Obama won 9 states that President Bush won in 2004. We picked up 8 Senate seats in 2008 and 6 in 2006. We won in places like Alaska and North Carolina-states where no one thought Democrats could be competitive. But we knew better.”

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.