Oct 13, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Biden critic Dean Phillips faces new primary challenge

Dean Phillips and Ron Harris

Rep. Dean Philips (left) faces a primary from Ron Harris: Photos: Getty Images/Courtesy of Ron Harris for Congress.

A Democratic National Committee official has officially launched a primary challenge against U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.).

Why it matters: Credible intra-party challenges to congressional incumbents are rare, but Phillips' criticism of President Biden and public flirtation with a presidential primary run have rankled many in the Democratic establishment.

Driving the news: Ron Harris, a DNC executive board member and midwestern caucus chair, announced his bid for the 3rd Congressional District Friday morning.

  • Harris, 33, said he's running for the suburban Twin Cities seat because he wants to "ensure that my community has strong, effective Democratic representation in Washington."

Catch up fast: Harris, who previously served as chief resilience officer for the city of Minneapolis, just recently began putting together his campaign, saying he wanted to be ready if Phillips does run for president.

  • In a statement Friday, Harris said he's "ready to step up to ensure our voices are heard, our community is represented, and our district gets the resources we need" as Phillips continues to mull a bid for higher office.

Of note: Voter registration records show Harris lives just outside the district, in Columbia Heights.

  • While in-district residency is not required to run, an adviser told Axios that Harris, who grew up in Coon Rapids and bought a house "one mile" outside the district several years ago, does plan to move back within its boundaries.

The other side: In a post on X, Phillips said he welcomes competition, but "as a MN-03 voter myself, I prefer candidates who actually live in the district."

State of play: The one-time swing district, which Phillips flipped in 2018, has trended blue in recent elections.

  • Phillips won his 2022 general election race by nearly 20 percentage points. He's yet to face a serious primary.

What we're watching: Phillips has said he will make a decision on a presidential bid in the "next few weeks."

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