Super Tuesday: Biden challenger Dean Phillips loses home state of Minnesota | Super Tuesday

The Minnesota congressman running against President Joe Biden in the Democratic primary lost his home state on Tuesday, capping off a stretch of poor showings.

Dean Phillips, who represents a wealthier suburban area outside Minneapolis, entered the Democratic race seemingly against his will and against the advice of most of his Democratic colleagues. The congressman, who first took office in 2019, first tried to recruit more prominent Democrats to challenge Biden, publicly saying the president needed to let the next generation lead the party.

Phillips alluded to potentially dropping out of the race on Tuesday, saying on X (formerly Twitter) that he would be “making decisions over the coming days” on how he could best fulfill his mission to ensure Trump loses the election.

He also allowed that he could drop out if asked nicely, saying his wife “has always found I respond better to honey than vinegar when she asks me to drop something. Just sayin … ”

He then congratulated all the people – or the lack of a person, in the case of the uncommitted vote – who had beaten him at the polls.

“Congratulations to Joe Biden, Uncommitted, Marianne Williamson, and Nikki Haley for demonstrating more appeal to Democratic Party loyalists than me,” he wrote on X.

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In Minnesota, some of Phillips’s supporters – including the state party – saw his entrance into the presidential contest as a betrayal, and remain confused about why he gave up a seat he flipped from Republicans to lose a presidential race and, in turn, his political career.

In his first election test, Phillips nabbed about 20% of the vote in New Hampshire, losing to Biden, whose name was not actually on the ballot.

His campaign in New Hampshire was not without controversy: a former political consultant affiliated with Phillips’ campaign claimed responsibility for a now-infamous robocall in New Hampshire that urged voters not to show up to the polls; Phillips has denounced the robocall.

Since then, Phillips’s momentum has fallen off, but he has stayed in the race – despite having no listed events and little, if any, campaigning happening in the field in any state. Even in Minnesota, there is no semblance of a campaign – no stops at local diners, no field office, no ground work.

In Michigan, he lost to both an “uncommitted” vote that sought to protest Biden’s inaction on a ceasefire in Gaza and to Marianne Williamson, the self-help author who had previously suspended her campaign. Williamson, buoyed up by the results, made the unusual move to “un-suspend” her campaign.

In mid-February, Phillips announced he had to lay off “a lot” of his staff because he had found it so hard to fundraise when there’s an incumbent in the race. Phillips, the heir to a liquor empire, had previously given his campaign several million dollars to get up and running.

His campaign has not responded to several requests for interviews or to meet up in person in Minnesota. It is unclear if he still has a press operation.

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“We can do it,” he said in a video announcing the layoffs. “We can do better. I love you all and thank you for keeping the faith. And join me, the Dean team, we can do it.”

He is still – for some reason – staying in it, perhaps as a hedge in case something happens to Biden that could upend the race. He’s on the ballot in 43 states.

His barely-there campaign now functions mostly online, where Phillips has managed to strike both a self-deprecating earnestness about his own quest to get nominated while continually sounding an alarm that Biden cannot win and someone should do something about it – but maybe not him.

“If you resent me for the audacity to challenge Joe Biden, at least you’ll appreciate how relatively strong I’m making him look among primary voters!” Phillips wrote on X, adding in a biceps emoji.

He shared an opinion piece endorsing him where the headline said: “Vote for whatshisname.” He made a meme of a Dean shoe, a Technicolor joke poking at Trump’s new sneaker. He played the guitar.

He floated the idea of a “unity ticket” with Republican candidate Nikki Haley, who has stuck in the GOP race despite repeated losses to Trump. He’s still trying to goad other Democrats into the race, specifically calling on Democratic governors like Gavin Newsom, Gretchen Whitmer and JB Pritzker to run.

And he has complimented Biden, in a strange way: when a New York Times poll showed Biden trailing Trump and losing support from people who previously voted for him, Phillips cast doubt on the poll.

“When the NYT/Siena poll shows me at 12%, you better believe it is flawed,” he wrote on X. “Only 5% even know who I am.”

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