Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips launches 2024 White House bid in challenge to Biden

The three-term congressman will compete in the New Hampshire primary.

October 27, 2023, 8:44 AM

Rep. Dean Phillips is running to be the Democratic nominee for president in 2024.

The three-term Minnesota congressman will challenge President Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination in 2024 -- a move that moves the moderate to the fringes of the party as he battles the well-funded and establishment-backed incumbent.

Phillips will also compete against long shot candidate Marianne Williamson for the nomination.

At 54, Phillips has for months been urging Democrats to put forward another primary challenger to the 80-year-old Biden -- highlighting concerns over his age and approval ratings.

"I think President Biden has done a spectacular job for our country. But it's not about the past. This is an election about the future. I will not sit still I will not be quiet in the face of numbers that are so clearly saying that we're going to be facing an emergency next November," Phillips said as he announced his run on CBS News on Friday morning.

He filed for the New Hampshire primary election later on Friday morning and then formally announce his candidacy at the Statehouse plaza in Concord. He'll now embark on a bus tour through New Hampshire.

Phillips stood in front of his campaign bus to announce his campaign– addressing an “exhausted majority” who he said was ready for a change.

The Democrat said that he was not running “in opposition to President Biden, who has my affection and my gratitude,” but rather with the belief that he was the Democratic candidate who could win the 2024 election. Phillips outlined four issues his 2024 bid will focus on: the economy, safety, generational change and reforming the "divisive political environment."

“We face a crisis of cooperation, and we face a crisis of common sense. We have a crisis of community we face and of individual initiative. We face a problem of participation, and we face a problem of national priorities,” he said.

There have been clues foreshadowing Phillips' run all week: on Monday, the Concord Department of Administrative Services confirmed reports that Phillips has obtained permits for plaza the State House Plaza on Friday– potentially for the launch of his White House bid. Then, on Tuesday, a local Minnesota radio station posted on X that someone had spotted a bus with 'Dean Phillips for President' plastered on the side in Ohio, presumably on its way to New Hampshire.

Outside of the New Hampshire Statehouse on Thursday evening was a van with the same Phillips' campaign slogan and branding.

Still, the Democratic congressman had not publicly let onto his bid until a teaser for his interview with CBS came late on Thursday.

Rep. Dean Phillips attends a news conference on Iran negotiations on Capitol Hill, April 06, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Chatter over Phillips' potential candidacy began in July, when it was first reported that he was being courted to throw his hat in the 2024 Democratic primary ring against Biden. Then he'd said he was not the best option to run, but that he would not close the door on the possibility.

Phillips, a millionaire businessman who stepped down from Democratic House leadership last month -- had engaged in a number of media interviews since July, calling for high-profile Democrats like "moderate governors from the heartland" to jump in.

Over a year ago, Phillips made news by saying publicly that he would not support Biden in 2024 amid a slew of new polling reflecting Democrats' desire for an alternative candidate.

He has since referenced national and state polling as reason that there needed to be a party alternative to Biden -- especially data that indicates Biden's age as a concern for voters. A poll published on Thursday from Gallup found that Biden's job approval has dropped among Democratic adults in the U.S., although a vast majority still support him. Biden's general approval rating remains relatively low.

By launching his bid in New Hampshire, a state that has bucked the new White House-blessed Democratic National Committee-approved early nominating calendar– one that bumps the Granite State from their spot as first-primary-in-the-nation and elevates South Carolina to the perch, Phillips further solidified his fate as a party outsider.

The Democratic National Committee, nor the Biden campaign, plans to comment on Phillips' entrance into the race.

Phillips' launch, especially in New Hampshire -- a state where the Biden campaign announced on Tuesday that he would not file to be on the ballot because they did not comply with the DNC's calendar -- has garnered sharp criticism from his Democratic colleagues.

"It's a vanity project," Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said on Wednesday. "I don't think it's the right thing."

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, said that while he respected Phillips, he disagreed with his challenging Biden.

"First of all, Dean is a friend of mine. I respect him greatly. I disagree with this. It is not going to have any impact whatsoever on this. Joe Biden's our nominee. And I hope this just, I hope for Dean he's alright on this one, but it's not going to make any difference. Our nominee is the president," Walz told ABC News on Wednesday.

By filing for the presidency in New Hampshire, Phillips is not receive any delegates from the state for the DNC next year, because the Granite State Democrats will likely have theirs stripped away after not coming into compliance with the party's nominating calendar. Phillips has already missed the filing deadline for candidacy in Nevada, so he will not be on the ballot for the firs-in-the-West early nominating state.

Artie Blanco, a Democratic National Committee member from Nevada, claimed that by just filing for the presidency in New Hampshire and by snubbing Nevada, the Democrat was not on path to being a competitive challenger to Biden.

"He's not serious about running for president. For someone to jump in and only file for one state– he doesn't understand that if you want to run for the President of the United States, you need to be backed by a diverse coalition," Blanco said.

"Basically, by missing the state of Nevada's deadline– he knew when the deadlines were. It seems like he is only taking what he wants, and to me it's not a real candidacy," she continued.

A native of Edina, Minnesota, Phillips attended Brown University and then earned his MBA from the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Business. He helped build up the Talenti Gelato chain and is the founder of Twin Cities-based coffee shop 'Penny's Coffee.'

ABC News' Libby Cathey and Oren Oppenheim contributed to this report.

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