Rep. Dean Phillips’ presidential primary challenge puts spotlight on Joe Biden’s New Hampshire snub


Things are about to get messier for President Biden in New Hampshire. 

Rep. Dean Phillips on Friday plans to kick off his upstart bid against Mr. Biden in New Hampshire. The announcement comes days after the Biden campaign announced he would not be appearing on the ballot there after trying — and failing — to strip the Granite State of its traditional first-in-the-nation primary status in part because its demographics are too White.

The decision has opened up the opportunity for Mr. Biden’s longshot rivals to land an embarrassing blow against the 80-year-old early on in the nomination process.

The situation has raised serious concerns among his supporters in the state who are planning to launch a write-in campaign in the hopes of avoiding the negative headlines that would come out of another Biden loss there.

“We’ve got some challenges that’s for sure,” Mr. Phillips says in his announcement video, which was shared with CBS News. “We are going to repair this economy and we are going to repair America, as long as we do it together.”

In a post on social media, Mr. Phillips casts the current state of affairs in a negative light, echoing the sort of attacks Republicans have leveled at the Biden administration.

SEE ALSO: Rep. Dean Phillips launches 2024 primary challenge to Biden: ‘I have to’

“I know things are tough right now,” he said. “The economy is not working for everybody. We are concerned about chaos at the border and crime in our communities.”

Mr. Phillips has been teasing a challenge for months and plans to make it official when he files for the New Hampshire primary in Concord. 

Marianne Williamson, a self-help guru, is also running against Mr. Biden, and focusing on New Hampshire. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. also was seeking the party’s nod but switched things up earlier this month when he announced he was instead running as an independent.

The Phillips announcement comes against the backdrop of the Biden campaign’s decision to pass on appearing on the ballot in New Hampshire.

Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Biden‘s campaign manager, informed New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Raymond Buckley this week that “while the president wishes to participate in the primary, he is obligated to comply” with party rules.

It is the latest wrinkle in a feud between Mr. Biden, New Hampshire Democrats and state election officials over the Democratic nomination calendar.

The irony is Mr. Biden urged the Democratic National Committee to adopt a new calendar earlier this year that would have South Carolina host the first primary — putting it ahead of both Iowa and New Hampshire, which have traditionally led off the nomination fights.

The DNC complied with the shakeup, which was made to empower minority voters who have long been reliable supporters of the Democratic Party.

Indeed, Mr. Biden‘s victory in the South Carolina primary in 2020 helped salvage his bid after poor showings in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.

Other states have long been jealous of the influence Iowa and New Hampshire have over the nomination process.

They have sought to move up their nomination contests in the hopes of being closer to the center of the action and playing a larger role in picking the party’s standard-bearer.

Under the new Biden-endorsed plan, South Carolina would hold its primary on Feb. 3, followed by the New Hampshire and Nevada primaries three days later.

From the get-go, however, New Hampshire Democrats have questioned the plan to rejigger the calendar and warned New Hampshire state law mandates they hold the first-in-the-nation primary. 

They said even if they thought it was a good idea, they did not have the power to change the law because of Republican Gov. Chris Sununu and the GOP-controlled state Legislature.

“They’re fools,” Mr. Sununu told The Washington Times last month. “I don’t know what’s going to happen other than we are going first.”

Mr. Buckley, the chair of the New Hampshire Democrats, maintains Mr. Biden is still well-positioned to win New Hampshire through a write-in campaign.

“The reality is that Joe Biden will win the (New Hampshire primary) in January, win renomination in Chicago and will be re-elected next November,” Mr. Buckley said on social media this week.

“President Lyndon Johnson won the 1964 and 1968 NH FITN Presidential Primary with Write-Ins,” he said.


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