Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips ends Democratic primary challenge and endorses President Biden

(Charles Krupa/Associated Press)

Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips ends Democratic primary challenge and endorses President Biden

Election 2024


March 6, 2024

U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota ended his long-awaited 2024 Democratic presidential bid on Wednesday after failing to win a primary against the president



said Phillips

Radio transmitter



in Minneapolis that he supported Biden and said there is only one choice in an expected fall contest with Republican Donald Trump.

Phillips, a 55-year-old multimillionaire who is among the wealthiest members of Congress, built his bid for the White House around calls for a new generation of Democratic leadership while spending money from his personal fortune. But the little-known congressman ultimately failed to resonate with the party’s voters.

Phillips was the only elected Democrat to challenge Biden for the presidency. Phillips’ failure to gain traction is further evidence that Democratic voters are behind the 81-year-old Biden, even as many have doubts about his age or his reelection prospects.

The president has long cast himself as uniquely qualified to beat Trump again, and Biden’s reelection campaign largely ignored Phillips except to point out that the congressman voted with the administration nearly 100% of the time in Congress.

Phillips often argued that Biden was too old for a second term. But on Wednesday, Phillips noted in a social media post that Biden had once visited his home while Biden was vice president and that his decency and wisdom were rarities in politics then, and even more so today.

Phillips said in the WCCO interview that while he thinks Biden “is at a stage of life where his capabilities have diminished, he is still a man of competence, decency and integrity.” And the alternative: Donald Trump is a very dangerous, dangerous man.

The Congressman’s endorsement of Biden ruled out the prospects


third-party challenge by Phillips on a potential No Labels ticket. But he said he hopes Nikki Haley, the last major Trump rival on the Republican side, who suspended her campaign on Wednesday, will consider an independent bid. Phillips said this would pull votes away from Trump and boost Biden’s re-election chances, while other independents in the race would only peel votes away from Biden and help Trump.

I believe wholeheartedly and exuberantly that there is only one choice, and that is Joe Biden. … Ultimately, this is a really very strong choice and a very simple contrast,” Phillips said.

A centerpiece of Phillips’ campaign to upset Biden took place in New Hampshire, where he campaigned hard, hoping to capitalize on state Democrats’ frustration over a new Democratic National Committee plan championed by Biden that would see the parties’ 2024 presidential primaries would be rescheduled to begin Feb. 3 with South Carolina.

But instead of pulling off a surprise in New Hampshire, Phillips finished a distant second in the state’s unsanctioned primary, following a write-in campaign in which Democrats voted for Biden despite his name not appearing on the ballot.

After that defeat, Phillips moved on to South Carolina and the primaries formally began. But the DNC has not scheduled any primary debates, and some Democratic parties in states, including North Carolina and Florida, do not even plan to hold primaries, making it even more difficult to challenge the incumbent president. Phillips lost South Carolina and every other state he competed in.

Before the Minnesota primaries on Super Tuesday, barely any of the nearly two dozen Democratic voters interviewed in Phillips’ congressional district mentioned his presidential campaign. James Calderaro of Hopkins knew Phillips was a candidate but dismissed him as a distraction. Calderaro and others said they were backing Biden for the best chance to stop Trump in November.

Phillips finished a distant third in the Minnesota primary with about 8% of the vote, compared to about 19% for uncommitted and 71% for Biden.

Phillips has already announced he will not seek re-election in his suburban Minneapolis congressional district. He is heir to his stepfather’s Phillips Distilling Co. empire and was that company’s president, but he also ran the ice cream maker Talenti. His grandmother was Pauline Phillips, better known as the advice columnist Dear Abby.

Driving a gelato truck helped Phillips win his first House campaign in 2018, when he unseated five-term Republican Erik Paulsen. While Phillips’ district is predominantly affluent


As Minneapolis has become more Democratic, he emphasized that he is moderate and focused on his suburban voters.

However, while running for president, Phillips moved further to the left and supported fully publicly funded health care

care through Medicare for All.”

Weissert reported from Washington.


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