Why is Dean Phillips, a Little-Known Democratic Congressman, Challenging Joe Biden’s Presidency

Minnesota Representative Dean Phillips Takes on President Biden: A Bid for Generational Change

Although not widely recognized, Minnesota Representative Dean Phillips aspires to achieve household name status.

The 54-year-old affluent individual recently initiated an unexpected primary challenge against President Joe Biden.

Remarkably, this challenge doesn’t stem from the right or left of Biden’s political spectrum; instead, it revolves around the 80-year-old President’s advanced age.

There exists a minimal disparity in policy between the two individuals. According to FiveThirtyEight’s data, up until the start of the current year, Phillips’ voting record has perfectly aligned with Biden’s stance on all issues.

However, Phillips has spent several months publicly advising Biden against seeking reelection, citing concerns about his ability to secure victory over Donald Trump for a second time.

During a July radio interview, Phillips remarked, “I believe he embodies decency, sound principles, compassion, empathy, and resilience.”

When asked whether Biden should pursue another term, Phillips candidly responded, “No, I don’t think so. The nation would benefit from a new cohort of engaging, well-prepared, and dynamic Democrats coming to the fore.

Phillips, a former entrepreneur who previously led the gelato company Talenti, has been serving as the representative for the suburban areas of Minneapolis since 2019, winning against a Republican contender during the 2018 midterms.

His involvement with the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus has been notable since then. Recently, he made headlines by resigning from his position in the House leadership, stepping down as the co-chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee.

Many interpreted this move as a strategic step towards potentially challenging the current leader of his party.

Phillips has scheduled his presidential announcement in New Hampshire on Friday, coinciding with the state’s filing deadline for the primary.

Notably, President Biden will not be participating in the primary in the Granite State due to the state’s decision to hold the first primary against the guidance of the Democratic National Committee.

This development may offer an opportunity for Phillips or another key Democrat in the race, such as Marianne Williamson, to gain significant traction in the state.

However, whether they can secure any delegates in the state’s unsanctioned primary remains to be determined.

Recent surveys indicate that most Democrats are against the idea of Biden running for the presidency in 2024, citing concerns about his age.

However, despite their reservations, no clear alternative candidate has emerged, leading to the seeming inevitability of Biden securing the nomination. Elected Democrats, significant donors, and party insiders have primarily supported Biden.

Even in his insinuations that Biden may not be the most suitable candidate for the role, Phillips has consistently expressed positive sentiments towards the President recently.

In September, his latest newsletter to constituents lauded Biden as “an extraordinary individual who rescued America, overseen a remarkably robust economy, and enacted some of the most significant legislation of our era.”

Following Biden’s recent primetime speech, Phillips took to the platform X, formerly known as Twitter, to commend the President, stating, “President Biden delivered an exceptional speech tonight, advocating strongly for our support towards Ukraine, Israel, and all those striving for self-determination, security, and peace. This embodies the essence of American ideals.”

Responding to inquiries about Phillips’ potential candidacy on Tuesday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre acknowledged the congressman’s unwavering support for the President, noting, “We are grateful for the congressman’s nearly complete backing of this administration.”

In a late July report, The New York Times they hinted at Phillips’ contemplation of a political bid, although no definitive announcement was made then.

In his September newsletter, Phillips encouraged figures like Cornel West and other prospective third-party candidates to challenge Biden directly in the Democratic primary.

  • He pondered the prospect of electing the first female President, suggesting that he was not vying for the position, stating, “Although I am not in a strong position to run in 2024, the Democratic Party has several compelling candidates who could rise if, and only if, President Biden solidifies his legacy and passes on the torch.”

This is not the first instance where Phillips has taken a bold stance in advocating for generational change. Back in April, he was among the two House Democratic lawmakers who suggested the resignation of California Senator Dianne Feinstein due to her extended absence from D.C., telling TIME that he believed her advanced age was impeding her ability to serve and that he would hold the same view even if the situation involved men.


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