Moderate Phillips Launches Primary Bid Against President Biden
WASHINGTON — Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., a centrist Democrat from Minnesota who has long argued that President Biden should not run for reelection due to his age and low poll numbers, has formally launched his campaign to unseat the incumbent president.
Phillips, a third-term congressman who represents a district that includes suburban Minneapolis, filed the paperwork to run in the primary contest in New Hampshire on Friday morning.
His appearance in Manchester, New Hampshire, followed the filing of related paperwork with the Federal Election Commission Thursday night, and the unveiling of a campaign website, dean24.com, that went live at about the same time.
Phillips told reporters last night that he believes “it’s time to pass the torch” to a new generation.
His campaign adviser, Steve Schmidt, a co-founder of The Lincoln Project, a group founded ahead of the 2020 presidential election to campaign against former President Trump, assured reporters this morning that Phillips is “running to win.”
The choice of New Hampshire as the launch site for Phillips’ campaign is an interesting one.
Because the Democratic National Committee stripped New Hampshire of its delegates for its refusal to abide by the party’s order to move its primary later in the year, Biden is not competing in the contest.
This will be the first time ever that a sitting president will not appear on the ballot in New Hampshire.
That means Phillips is already the odds-on winner of a contest that will also include Marianne Williamson, the self-help author who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination in 2020, and Cenk Uygur, the co-creator and co-host of the progressive talk show “The Young Turks.”
Schmidt, who infamously advised Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to select Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008, said Phillips will focus not only on New Hampshire, but also South Carolina, which has moved up in the primary schedule, and Michigan.
With a net worth estimated to be about $123 million, Phillips, 54, is the fifth richest member of the House and one of the 10 richest members in Congress.
Earlier this month he stepped down from his position as co-chair of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee because he said his views relative to the 2024 presidential race were “incongruent with the majority of my caucus.”
But one group with whom his views do seem to align are the participants in recent polling on the race for the White House.
A CNN poll conducted in late August and released in September found that nearly three-quarters of Americans (73%) are “seriously concerned” that Biden’s age (80) might negatively affect his current level of physical and mental competence.
More than three-quarters (76%) are concerned about his ability to serve out another full term if reelected, with a smaller 68% majority seriously concerned about his ability to understand the next generation’s concerns.
The president himself has brushed off such polls, telling reporters at a news conference earlier this year that voters are going to see him participate in the 2024 campaign and that “they’re going to judge whether or not I have it or don’t have it.”
“I respect them for taking a hard look at it,” he said.
But Phillips says the numbers are clearly saying only one thing: “They are saying … we’re going to be facing an emergency next November.”
Age aside, Phillips, a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus, New Democrat Coalition and Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, appears to have no real philosophical or policy disagreements with the president.
In fact, according to FiveThirtyEight, a website that focuses on opinion poll analysis, politics, and economics, among other topics, found that Phillips has voted with the president 100% of the time.
As for a brief biographical sketch: Phillips was born Dean Benson Pfefer on Jan. 20, 1969, in St. Paul, Minnesota, just months before his biological father, Army Capt. Arthur Pfefer, was killed in a helicopter crash in Vietnam.
The father and son never met.
In 1972, his mother, DeeDee, married Edward Phillips, the chairman and CEO of Phillips Distilling Company, the Minnesota-based liquor giant.
Soon after the wedding, Eddie Phillips adopted Dean, who took his adoptive father’s last name, and many years later, in 2000, after earning a master’s degree in Business from the University of Minnesota, Dean Phillips was named the new CEO of the Phillips Distilling Company.
By 2012, the company was reportedly worth over $175 million.
On a side note, Phillips’ adoptive grandmother, Pauline Phillips, was the author of the famous “Dear Abby” advice column, which she wrote under the pseudonym “Abigail Van Buren” between 1956 and 2002.
In 2012, Phillips stepped down as CEO of Phillips Distilling, opting to manage a small, Texas-based gelato company, Talenti, that was among the family’s investments.
Soon after, Talenti became one of the best-selling ice cream brands in the country. It was sold to the multinational packaged goods brand Unilever in 2014 for an undisclosed sum.