WASHINGTON - Former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson plans to challenge fund-raiser extraordinaire Terry McAuliffe to become chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Jackson had been approached by several black leaders, including Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and Texas state Rep. Al Edwards, chairman of the DNC's black caucus, who complained that they were not consulted before McAuliffe decided to run.
''This is not a protest campaign,'' Jackson said. ''This is a campaign to win and to lead.''
Maynard, the first black mayor of Atlanta, said the Democrats won't be able to take back the White House in 2004 without winning some southern states. He said he would be a strong organizer for the 2002 and 2004 campaigns.
McAuliffe quickly landed the endorsements of President Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle. He also has the support of Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, Labor Secretary Alexis Herman, former Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros, Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney.
The Democrats' most prolific fund-raiser, McAuliffe also chaired Clinton's 1997 inaugural and the 2000 Democratic National Convention.
''I have broad support from every element of the Democratic Party: labor, business, conservative, liberal, every ethnicity involved,'' McAuliffe said. ''We need to be one organized party to deal with the Republicans and I want to bring a lot of excitement, unity and purpose to this party and build on the successes that we had in this election.''
Jackson said he had hopes of victory.
''This thing is not locked up,'' he said Saturday in a telephone interview. ''We believe we have a chance to win this.''
McAuliffe's campaign is being directed by outgoing national chairman Joe Andrew. The Democrats' general chairman, former Philadelphia Mayor Edward Rendell, also is stepping down.
The controversy over the Democratic leadership follows a huge outpouring of support for the party by blacks, who favored Gore over George W. Bush by a margin of 9-to-1, according to exit polls. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People spent $9 million to get blacks to the polls.
If he wins, McAuliffe has pledged to name blacks to top party positions and to hold hearings on whether black voters were disenfranchised on Election Day.
''There is going to be room at the table for everybody,'' McAuliffe said. ''It's going to be the broadest, biggest, most inclusive tent ever put together by the Democratic Party.''