A number of House Democrats have demurred on the 2024 question, but Dean Phillips may be the first to outright oppose a re-election bid by Joe Biden. The Minnesota Democrat categorically declared his refusal to support Biden in an interview on a local CBS Radio affiliate, WCCO. In response to a poll earlier in the week showing 75% of Democrats want a new nominee, Phillips (MN-03) said to count him among them:
Dean Phillips (D), Minnesota’s third district congressman, told Chad Hartman on WCCO Radio Thursday that it is time for a new generation.
“I have respect for Joe Biden. I think he has, despite some mistakes and missteps, despite his age, I think he’s a man of decency, of good principal, of compassion, of empathy, and of strength. But to answer your question directly, which I know is quite rare, no, I don’t.”
Phillips went on to say it was time for some new candidates to step up in the Democratic Party.
“I think the country would be well-served by a new generation of compelling, well-prepared, dynamic Democrats to step up,” Phillips told WCCO. “And with that, I hope we see a resurgence of the principled center-right Republican Party reform.”
MinnPost, a liberal news analysis site in Minnesota, notes that they haven’t heard such categorical and explicit opposition from any member of Congress until now. They’ve heard some statements that show a pointed lack of enthusiasm for a Biden re-election launch, but …
“I think it’s time for a generational change,” Phillips said. “And I think most of my colleagues agree with that.”
There has been a whisper campaign for months among Democrats who want someone other than Biden to be their party’s nominee, especially if Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is the Republican candidate. But few have made their preferences public — or said outright they would not support their party’s standard bearer.
Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., said last month that he did not know if he would support Biden.
“I don’t know if he’s running in 2024 or who’s running, so I’m not going to opine on who should be president,” Malinowksi said at a town hall.
Phillips’ more assertive stand may be a function of a potentially more challenging re-election bid in November. Phillips will run for a third term in MN-03, which currently has a D+6 Cook index. He won the district in the last two cycles by roughly eleven points, but the first was in a strong Democratic wave (2018) and the second was in a mixed-bag election in which Republicans picked up House seats while losing the presidency. Before then, Erik Paulsen held the seat for five terms and won by double digits in all but the first election — another Democratic wave that put Barack Obama in the White House.
Just how much at risk Phillips will be in this cycle remains to be seen. Republicans unified around Tom Weiler as the challenger early, who currently serves in the state legislature. He’s likely to get a lot of funding for his challenge against Phillips, and that means Weiler will be able to tie Biden around Phillips’ neck in a moderate district that won’t appreciate Biden’s hard-Left turn in office.
The best strategy for Phillips is to distance himself from Biden and any hint that Biden will stick around any longer than this term. It won’t be long before other vulnerable Democrats see that as their best strategy to deal with a president whose job approval and favorability ratings have plunged to the low 30s and may go lower than that. Now that Phillips has apparently broken the dam, get ready for the anti-Biden 2024 flood.