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Longshot Democratic challenger to Biden angers supporters in home Minnesota district, called ‘delusional’

The longshot challenger to President Biden for the 2024 Democratic nomination is angering and alienating some of his supporters in his Minnesota congressional district, according to a report.

Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., flipped a seat that had been in GOP hands for 60 years in 2018 and has since been re-elected twice. But now that he’s annoying party leaders and missing votes with his “quixotic” presidential bid, the Star Tribune reports, he could face consequences back home in his suburban Minneapolis district.

One former supporter told the Star Tribune that Phillips sounds “Trumpy” in his rhetoric.

“The tone is different. The tone is much more negative — it’s not an ‘everyone’s invited,’ it’s ‘you can’t trust the system, the system’s out to get us,'” Karl Bunday told the newspaper, saying he regrets previously donating to and volunteering for him. “It sounds very Trumpy.”

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“For him to think that he has the political capital, that he has even the support in his own district, that he’s the right candidate to run, is delusional,” said John Albers, described as “a 64-year-old architect from Minnetonka who spent many hours volunteering for Phillips in 2018.”

Rep. Dean Phillips, right, is mounting an unlikely bid for the 2024 Democratic nomination against President Biden. ( BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images, left, and Mel Musto/Bloomberg via Getty Images, right )

Another former supporter, Julie Cole, ripped into Phillips for missing many House votes in a bid that appears hopeless. 

“It just seems like he has completely abdicated his responsibility for being our representative,” she said.

Phillips has framed his challenge around being a truth-teller who says what many Americans are thinking about the 81-year-old president: He is too old to serve a second term. Phillips has said that the risk of former President Trump winning the White House again is too great to take a chance on Biden again.

Biden is already the oldest president in U.S. history and would be 86 upon leaving office in 2029 if he was re-elected. Polling has consistently shown a majority of Americans believe Biden is not up to serving another term – and a sizable portion have similar concerns about Trump – but the nation nevertheless appears headed for a rematch of the 2020 Biden-Trump race.

Not everyone in Phillips’ district was dismissive. The Star Tribune also quoted supportive voices of his bid, including former Minnetonka City Council member Bradley Schaeppi, who criticized Democrats who think Phillips is weakening Biden.

“There’s a lot of pressure to agree in today’s politics … and dissent within parties is frowned upon,” Schaeppi said. “Why isn’t there a single elected Democrat in any elected office who’s said anything positive about Dean and why he’s doing this?”

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A 77-year-old in the district said Phillips was simply “stating the obvious” about Biden’s age.

Dean Phillips

Despite recent staff layoffs, Dean Phillips has vowed to remain in the Democratic primary race. (Mel Musto/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Phillips pointed to Special Counsel Robert Hur’s withering assessment earlier this month of Biden as a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory” as evidence that Biden was no longer fit.

“The Report simply affirms what most Americans already know, that the President cannot continue to serve as our Commander-in-Chief beyond his term ending January 20, 2025,” he said.

Phillips’ campaign has never generated any momentum, and the primary results to date reflect that.

Despite Biden’s name not being on the ballot in New Hampshire, he beat Phillips there by 44 points. In South Carolina earlier this month, Phillips got just 1.7 percent of the vote while Biden took a whopping 96 percent.

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Phillips announced mass layoffs from his campaign last week, calling it a “really tough day,” but hasn’t quit the race.

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