President Joe Biden finally has a primary challenge from an elected Democrat – and it’s a relatively obscure Congressman from Minnesota.
Joe Biden Must Worry?
For much of the 2024 cycle so far, President Biden has lacked a challenge from an actual elected Democrat. Sure, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., was in the Democratic race, before he switched to go independent, but none of the party’s governors, senators, or other prominent elected officials has opted to challenge the incumbent president.
This week, that changed, with the news that Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) has announced a challenge to Biden.
“I think President Biden has done a spectacular job for our country, but it’s not about the past. This is an election about the future. I will not sit still, I will not be quiet in the face of numbers that are so clearly saying that we’re going to be facing an emergency next November,” Phillips said Thursday, per CNN.
Phillips had spoken earlier this fall about running, before appearing to step away from the idea, while stating that a governor should run. Earlier this month, he stepped away from his position in the House Democratic leadership.
The CNN story stated that Phillips, earlier this fall, tried to reach out to the president to air his concerns, and while Biden himself did not respond, Phillips did speak to the White House chief of staff, Jeff Zients.
Phillips plans to focus on New Hampshire where, due to a dispute between the state and the party, Biden might not appear on the primary ballot. Steve Schmidt, the former John McCain campaign manager who was later a cofounder of the Lincoln Project, is advising Phillips.
“I love New Hampshire,” Phillips said in the campaign video, per CNN. “That’s why I’m back, as a candidate for president, in the place where we begin. Where presidential candidates stand before you, the voters, walk through the snow, listen to your dreams, hear your concerns, and most of all, discuss how we’re going to work together to move to the future.”
WCCO in Minnesota looked at Phillips’ background. He is 54 years old, a native of Minnesota, and is in his third term in Congress. The advice columnist known as Abigail Van Buren was his grandmother. Phillips is a businessman and millionaire.
Phillips’ campaign launched as some Democrats said they would like to see someone other than Biden emerge as their candidate in 2024. According to The Hill, which cited a Gallup poll, 75 percent of Americans now approve of Biden’s job performance, down 11 percent from the previous month. The president’s overall approval rating is now down to 37 percent.
This was attributed in part to some dissatisfaction among Democrats with Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war. But in his CBS interview, Phillips’ position on the conflict wasn’t especially different from Biden’s.
“We need peace and prosperity and opportunity for both Palestinians and Israelis living side by side. But right now it is black and white,” Phillips said. “We need the United States to continue to support Israel. We need to eradicate Hamas. And we need to encourage Palestinians to elevate a leadership that can sit at the table with principle with good character, and with the intention for peace.”
Even with Phillips in the race, there’s no indication that the DNC will alter its course of not hosting debates, and openly supporting Biden’s reelection.
Why is he running? Politico looked into that question this week.
“A half-dozen people who have spoken directly to him say he has sincerely described feeling something akin to obligation to primary Biden, while also expressing concern about Biden’s ability to beat former President Donald Trump a second time,” the Politico analysis said. “He is ‘seeing a problem that everyone sees, but no one is talking about,’ said one of those people, granted anonymity to discuss private conversations. They described Phillips as ‘frustrated’ by it all.”
Author Expertise and Experience
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Stephen has authored thousands of articles over the years that focus on politics, technology, and the economy for over a decade.
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