Dean Phillips ends long-shot Democratic primary challenge to Biden

Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips announced Wednesday that he was dropping out of the 2024 Democratic presidential primary and throwing his support behind President Joe Biden.

“I ran for Congress in 2018 to resist Donald Trump, I was trapped in the Capitol in 2021 because of Donald Trump, and I ran for President in 2024 to resist Donald Trump again - because Americans were demanding an alternative, and democracy demands options,” the congressman said on social media.

“But it is clear that alternative is not me. And it is clear that Joe Biden is OUR candidate and OUR opportunity to demonstrate what type of country America is and intends to be,” he added.

Phillips’ announcement comes as Biden has dominated the contests on the Democratic primary calendar this year, from the South Carolina primary on February 3 through Super Tuesday, as he marches toward the party nomination.

Even in the New Hampshire primary in January – a contest that did not comply with Democratic National Committee rules – Phillips, who focused heavily on the state and launched his campaign there, was unable to secure a win. Biden won through an unofficial write-in campaign launched by his Granite State supporters.

Phillips’ exit leaves author Marianne Williamson as the last remaining notable primary challenger to Biden. Williamson dropped out of the race on February 7 but then unsuspended her campaign weeks later after finishing ahead of Phillips in the Michigan primary.

In February, Phillips said his campaign had to lay off staff in an effort to scale back operations. The same month, he canceled a previously planned trip to Michigan, admitting that it had been “almost impossible” to raise enough money to run his campaign the way he would like to.

Phillips entered the Democratic primary in October, declaring that he was compelled to run over concerns that Biden would lose a general election rematch against former President Donald Trump.

“This was not about me,” the Minneapolis-area congressman told CNN shortly before his campaign launch. “But my inability to attract other candidates, to inspire the president to recognize that it is time, compels me to serve my country because it appears that President Joe Biden is going to lose the next election.”

While Phillips called Biden a “terrific president” during the early days of his campaign, the congressman grew increasingly critical of his opponent in the ensuing months.

At stops in New Hampshire in December, Phillips raised doubts about Biden’s physical capacity and called him a threat to democracy. Phillips also challenged the president on several policy issues, including rising costs, health care and the southern border.

After Biden was projected as the winner of the New Hampshire primary, Phillips told reporters the president was “in decline, numerically, actuarially and reputationally, that’s just the truth.”

Even Democrats who had privately said they wished Biden would not run for reelection opposed Phillip’s bid, calling it selfish as the party looked to unify around the president, fend off independent or third-party candidates, and lay out the administration’s accomplishments to voters.

Throughout the race, Phillips accused his party of working to suppress his candidacy in places where state parties submitted only Biden’s name to be on Democratic primary ballots.

The Minnesota Democrat gained ballot access in Wisconsin only after the state Supreme Court sided with his campaign in a lawsuit.

Phillips’ campaign also submitted challenges to the Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee over state decisions to not include his name on primary ballots in Florida and North Carolina.

Phillips, who boasted of being one of the most bipartisan members of Congress, shifted left on several policy issues as a presidential contender. He declared his support for “Medicare for All” and universal basic income pilot programs as he sought to distinguish himself from Biden.

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who centered his unsuccessful 2020 Democratic presidential bid on a universal basic income plan, endorsed Phillips in January. He touted the congressman as a “new 54-year-old, like, unifying, positive, ebullient human that Americans have not been trained to hate yet,” drawing a contrast with Biden.

An heir to a Minnesota distilling business and former chairman of Talenti Gelato, Phillips was first elected to Congress in 2018, when he unseated a Republican incumbent in a suburban Twin Cities-area district. He handily won reelection in 2020 and 2022, and announced he would not seek a fourth term shortly after launching his presidential bid.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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