Biden Gets a Single, Sane Challenger

Wednesday, November 01, 2023

Minnesota Congressman Dean Phillips has thrown his hat into the Democrat presidential primary ring. He thus offers voters in his party a younger alternative to the President, whose age and mental acuity would be big enough handicaps even if he weren't polling so poorly.

A profile of the new candidate at CNN sees the move as providing the Democrats an emergency option in addition to a way for Phillips to build name recognition ahead of the 2028 race.

I am no fan of the Democrats, but I think this is a much more wiley and viable move than Phillips is being credited with.

On paper, he sounds almost like an even-keeled, younger Democrat version of Donald Trump, in that he is a former businessman who grabbed a political opportunity by the horns:

Democrats should celebrate, and Republicans should be jealous. (Image by Eric Connolly, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.)
Yet it was only after achieving all this success in the business world that, in 2018, he decided to jump into the political fray. Sensing an opening in Minnesota's purplish and suburban third congressional district, which has been in moderate Republican hands for around 60 years, Phillips took the leap.

Given how many voters in the district had been turned off by the first two years of Donald Trump's presidency, Phillips sensed it was a vulnerable seat. It was a big bet for someone with no prior political experience, but it paid off. And it's maybe some of that same thinking about political risk-taking which prompted Phillips' move to challenge Biden as well. [links omitted]
The piece makes much of how this move has angered the Democrat establishment, which, incidentally has unintentionally paved the way for Phillips to establish credibility with an early win in New Hampshire.

This anger puzzles me. The guy voted with Biden 100% of the time as a congressman and flipped a seat in a purplish district.

Many commentators -- left, right, and otherwise -- have said that Trump and Biden need each other in the race to win. Unlike the kooky RFK, Jr., here is a reliable lefty who passes for sane enough to win the kind of suburban district that will be part of a path to victory in 2024.

If the Democrats were halfway sane, they'd heave a quiet sigh of relief, persuade Biden to stand down, and back this guy yesterday.

Phillips puts the Democrats in a position the GOP can only dream it was in: a primary with a single challenger to an old, problematic, and deeply unpopular front-runner, with said challenger being viable in the general and, all other things being equal, getting to face the other party's ancient albatross.

Oh, and I almost forgot: Unlike the case with Trump, Biden doesn't have a core of blindly loyal personality cultists who would vote for him even if he personally shot their own mothers: Phillips thus would have an easier path to victory than a similar challenger to Trump, who would have to work hard to consolidate lots of support very quickly in order to make it to the general.

This isn't a no-chance loon like Marianne Williams or an obvious kook like RFK, Jr. -- who will hurt Trump more than Biden with his now-independent run. This guy is the real deal and, if his own party should support him, the GOP should be jealous and very concerned about its chances in 2024.

-- CAV

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