It has been no major secret that the Clintons are not fans of Howard Dean. In fact, according to yesterday’s Hotline, “Washington Times‘ Lambro reports, Clinton reportedly asked DNC chair Terry McAuliffe to run for another term, but McAuliffe declined. It is “no secret within party circles” that Clinton and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) don’t want Dean as chair (1/27).”

It comes then as a surprise that former Clinton aide, Harold Ickes, is endorsing Dean for Chairman of the DNC. Dean’s former campaign manager, Joe Trippi, is backing Simon Rosenberg, some in Congress are rumored to privately support pro-lifer Tim Roemer while many others support Martin Frost, and Hillary Clinton is rumored to support Wellington Webb, the former mayor of Denver, CO.

The Ickes endorsement could be a big boost for Dean, who is already considered in the lead. Dean is out front with 48 votes for Chairman followed by Martin Frost with 15 (Soure: The Hotline). Ickes says the endorsement is his alone and not related to the Clintons. This could, however, signal some that the Clintons have had a change of heart. I doubt they have and, if they still don’t like Dean, look for the anti-Dean bandwagon to really fire up next week. The Clintons will most likely want to send a very strong signal that they disagree with Harold Ickes on this pick.

The Chairmanship will be decided on February 12.