While the hour is getting late for would-be pursuers of the presidency in 2024, a moderate Democratic House representative is signaling he's about to announce a challenge to President Biden for the party nomination.
First elected to Congress in 2018, 54-year-old Rep. Dean Phillips represents Minnesota's third district, which primarily comprises the western suburbs of Minneapolis, along with some rural areas. For a Democratic Party obsessed with identity politics, Phillips would be the first Jewish US president.
Rep. Dean Phillips: "Joe Biden right now is down SEVEN POINTS in the four swing states that will decide the next election." 👀 pic.twitter.com/QtKpW9ZeIH— Trump War Room (@TrumpWarRoom) August 13, 2023
Phillips is quietly signaling to House peers that he'll launch a campaign shortly, Politico reports. He's previously pointed to Biden's age as a liability and said "the country is begging for alternatives." In an August appearance on Meet the Press, Phillips called on Biden to "pass the torch...I believe a majority wants to move on...people want to turn the page."
Don't expect Phillips to draw any sharp policy contrasts with Biden. A January analysis by FiveThirtyEight found that Phillips voted in accordance with Biden's position 100% of the time.
President Biden issued an outstanding speech this evening, making a strong case for why we must support Ukraine, Israel, and all who seek self-determination, security, and peace. That’s what America does.— Rep. Dean Phillips 🇺🇸 (@RepDeanPhillips) October 20, 2023
He'll need a big war chest to take on an incumbent president and a Democratic Party that's rigged the nominating process to an extent it prompted Robert F. Kennedy, Jr to abandon it in favor of an independent run. Politico notes that Biden already has $91 million in cash.
Then again, Phillips has the potential to self-fund a campaign, at least to some extent. An heir to Minnesota's Phillips Distilling Company and co-founder of Talenti Gelato, he's one of the richest members of Congress. In 2019, Fortune estimated his net worth at $77 million.
Over the summer, Phillips held meetings with Democratic donors. Earlier this month, Phillips called New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley. “I called Chairman Buckley...to introduce myself as I contemplate entering the Democratic primary,” Phillips told Politico.
New Hampshire presents an unusual momentum opportunity for any challenger to Biden. The Democratic Party stripped the Granite State of its first-in-the-nation primary slot and gave it to South Carolina, the state where Biden's fortunes turned in the 2020 race. However, New Hampshire plans to go rogue, and hold an unsanctioned primary on Jan. 23, a few weeks before South Carolina's Feb 3 contest. As a result of the intrigue, Biden's name probably won't be on the ballot.
Phillips is already too late to appear on the Nevada ballot, and he only has until Nov. 10 to make South Carolina's cut-off.
Given the formidable challenge of taking on the Democratic Party machine, perhaps a Phillips campaign isn't a drive to defeat Joe Biden but rather a call option on a scenario in which the clearly-declining Biden is finally deemed physically and/or mentally capable of running for re-election. That already appears to be the case, but at some point it may become so painfully evident that Biden's family and party puppetmasters wake up to that reality.
BIDEN: "I asked the secretary of state when he and I were working in the Senate to write something for me and he said he wrote a line that I think is appropriate. He said, 'It's not we lead, it's not just...' Well, I won't go into it, I'll wait 'til later, taking too much time." pic.twitter.com/XxtspLBJs3— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) October 18, 2023
Meanwhile, Phillips' candor about Biden's unattractiveness as a candidate seems to have had its own consequences for Phillips: He's facing a primary challenge of his own, as Ron Harris, an executive member of the Democratic National Committee, has announced he's seeking to wrest Phillips' House seat away from him.