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Millionaire congressman Phillips challenges fellow Democrat Biden in 2024 election

By Jake Beardslee · October 27, 2023

In brief…

  • Congressman Dean Phillips launching longshot primary challenge to President Biden
  • Cites generational concerns, belief that Democrats want alternative to 80-year-old Biden
  • Plans retail-focused campaign reminiscent of his 2018 House race
  • Bid comes amid Democratic turmoil in early-state New Hampshire over primary calendar
Minnesota Congressman Dean Phillips has decided to mount a quixotic primary challenge against President Joe Biden based on generational concerns, despite criticism from other Democrats.  Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America / Wikimedia

Minnesota Congressman Dean Phillips is launching a longshot presidential bid to challenge President Joe Biden in the 2024 Democratic primary. Even though many of his fellow members of Congress view Phillips’ campaign as self-indulgent or an age-related crisis, he thinks Democratic voters are unhappy with Biden and that his own, younger candidacy presents voters with a different generation of leadership compared to the 80-year-old incumbent.

Phillips has privately expressed concerns about Biden’s ability to defeat former President Donald Trump again in 2024. He had initially hoped to recruit another moderate candidate to mount a primary challenge but has now decided to jump in himself, believing no one else will.

The wealthy businessman plans to run a campaign reminiscent of his successful 2018 House race, when he shunned the advice of national Democrats and relied on his marketing background instead. He drove a vintage milk truck to campaign stops and focused on digital over TV ads.

Phillips has already failed to make the ballot in Nevada and remains unknown in New Hampshire, where he plans to focus his efforts after the state lost its first-in-the-nation primary status. He has brought on GOP strategist Steve Schmidt and other consultants from his House campaign.

Many Democrats are frustrated and confused by Phillips’ last-minute bid against a popular president. The Biden campaign is expected to paint Phillips as out-of-touch while touting the president’s accomplishments.

Phillips’ challenge comes at a turbulent time for New Hampshire Democrats, who hope to hold an unsanctioned primary after being penalized by the DNC. But without other big-name candidates, Phillips’ impact is likely to be minimal.