No decision from Dean Phillips

By Hunter Woodall

U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips took his dance with a potential 2024 Democratic presidential primary bid to a national audience over the weekend even as he avoided diving into what would be a longshot effort.

The Minnesota Democrat appeared on the CBS mainstay Face The Nation on Sunday and was interviewed by Major Garrett (a Mizzou alum like yours truly).

After confirming late last month he was being urged to consider running for president, Phillips stayed quiet publicly for more than a week. But anyone expecting Phillips to use his national television interview, or his local interview minutes later with WCCO's Esme Murphy, to make his intentions clear one way or another came away disappointed.

Phillips said he has not made a decision on whether he will run, but used the platform provided to him to urge for viable competition against Biden in the Democratic primary.

He also was hard to read at times, pairing comments such as "I think I'm well positioned to be president of the United States," with the caveat of "I do not believe I'm well positioned to run for it right now."

But by making the point that "Democrats are telling me that they want, not a coronation, but they want a competition," Phillips showed he is not ready to put this chapter behind him just yet.

In what represented his first public comments following tangible pushback once news of his potential 2024 challenge leaked, Phillips also went out of his way to compliment Democratic incumbent President Joe Biden, the very man he hasn't ruled out challenging.

"I want to tell you this about President Biden: an amazing man. I love the man," Phillips told Garrett. "He is competent. He is honorable. His integrity, I believe is unvarnished. He has led this country through extraordinarily difficult times. This is not about him. This is about listening to people."

The balancing act for Phillips is trying to encourage a Biden primary challenge while also maintaining that he understands and agrees with the fear Democrats have of former President Donald Trump potentially winning in 2024 and returning to power after the Republican was charged over the attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

"With three Democratic primary challengers already in the race, the @NYTimes poll shows 55% of Democrats and 83% of those under 30 are demanding alternatives. We can't ignore the numbers. And if @JoeBiden is our nominee, I'll be all-in to Go with Joe!," Phillips tweeted, linking to the Face The Nation interview.

Presidential politics is a difficult arena. Phillips even moving this far into the 2024 drama is the kind of choice that could follow him, for better or worse, in the years to come. And it presents an interesting, if deeply risky, stance for Phillips.

If Biden loses the 2024 general election, Phillips can say he was ringing the alarm bell early. If Biden wins, what Phillips is doing may not be so easily forgotten by fellow elected officials or others within the Democratic party.

THANKS: A humble thank you to readers who emailed me last week with their thoughts about a potential 2024 Phillips run for president.

HOUSE: Kelly Smith reports that "U.S. Rep. Angie Craig introduced legislation Monday to double fines to $50,000 for fraud in federally funded child nutrition programs, in the wake of the massive Feeding Our Future scandal."

MNLEG: Rochelle Olson writes that "DFL state Rep. Dan Wolgamott of St. Cloud was cited Monday with two misdemeanor counts of driving while intoxicated after tests showed he had a blood alcohol level of 0.09% last month, above the legal limit of 0.08%."

STATE FAIR: Olson also has a deep look at Renee Alexander, the now CEO of the Minnesota state fair.

POT: Ryan Faircloth and Brooks Johnson report that "cannabis enthusiasts in Minnesota are commemorating the historic end to marijuana prohibition with smoking parties, visits to the state's first tribal dispensary and classes teaching them how to grow at home."

My colleagues also note however that "as weed's dank aroma shamelessly rises around the state, not everyone is embracing it."

WHERE'S WALZ: The governor is set for an event at 1 p.m. today where he and DFL legislative leaders "will visit a nursing home in the north metro to highlight $173 million in direct funding for nursing homes across the state, which took effect this month," according to an advisory.

ELECTIONS: Some local special elections are happening today. Check out this rundown on the Minnesota Secretary of State's website for more info.


  • Louis Krauss reports: "Minnesota lawmakers have temporarily suspended a rule meant to keep mentally ill individuals from languishing in jails, after lawsuits started stacking up over monthslong waits for transfers to more appropriate facilities."
  • Erin Adler has a story headlined: New law lets Minn. churches help homeless people by building tiny homes on property.
  • Jessie Van Berkel looks at the complexities around tipping in this day and age.
  • Randy Furst reports: "Federal prosecutors are seeking a prison term of 30 years for Minneapolis businessman and former Republican Party strategist Anton "Tony" Lazzaro, describing him as a predator whose sexual relations with underage girls caused them serious psychological damage and shattered their families."

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