Dean: ‘There will be primaries’ if health reform passes without a public option.

In an interview today with The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein former DNC Chair and presidential candidate Howard Dean warned that Democratic lawmakers who oppose the creation of a new public health insurance plan in health care legislation will face primary elections:

I do think there will be primaries as the result of all this, if the bill doesn’t pass with a public option,” Dean said, in a phone interview with the Huffington Post.

The former Vermont governor added the caveat that he thought “cooler heads” would ultimately prevail and that a government run option for insurance coverage would be passed. But his remarks are some of the most threatening yet to be directed at Democrats from within the party.

Dean, who is a keynote speaker at the Netroots Nation conference at Pittsburgh this week, said he was “in favor” of holding recalcitrant senators and congressman accountable on health care related issues.

As Dean has said before, health care reform “rises and falls” based on the inclusion of a Medicare-like public option — which the public overwhelmingly supports. Openleft is currently maintaining a whip count on where Senators stand on the public option.