A top South Carolina Democratic official dismisses Dean Phillips' presidential bid as 'not serious,' says the Minnesota lawmaker has not yet contacted the party in the key early-voting state

  • Rep. Dean Phillips just launched his 2024 WH primary challenge against President Joe Biden.

  • But Christale Spain, the SC Democratic Party chair, told Politico he had not yet contacted Dems in the state.

  • Spain told the outlet that Phillips is "not serious" about running if he bypasses the state.

Rep. Dean Phillips' primary challenge to President Joe Biden wasn't a complete surprise to many Democrats, with the Minnesota congressman having been vocal about empowering a new generation of leaders.

But as Phillips launches his long-shot campaign against Biden, a former vice president and ex-senator who has been a fixture in Washington for more than 50 years, he has — naturally — run into turbulence from members of his own party.

Phillips has called for a competitive Democratic primary and not a Biden "coronation."

But according to Politico, the congressman's intent to focus on the New Hampshire primary has alienated influential leaders like South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Christale Spain, who called Phillips "a distraction."

Spain said that Phillips had not yet spoken with Democrats in South Carolina, which she said was a sign that he's "not serious."

"Any serious Democratic candidate … would understand that Black voters in South Carolina have been the backbone of the Democratic Party," she told the publication.

South Carolina — where Black voters in 2020 gave Biden his first primary win of the season and propelled him to the Democratic presidential nomination that year — is set to have the first DNC-authorized primary contest in February 2024. (The change has caused a major rift with New Hampshire's claim as the first primary state by law.)

Phillips has enough time to meet South Carolina's November 10 filing deadline to appear on the state's 2024 primary ballot.

However, the congressman already missed the filing deadline for Nevada, another early-voting state, and his campaign indicated that they aren't particularly worried about it. (Steve Schmidt, the former GOP strategist now advising Phillips, told Politico that the campaign would "cede" the state to Biden.)

During his tenure in Congress, Phillips has largely been complimentary of Biden's record, and has a voting record that reflects his overwhelming alignment with the president's views.

"At the end of the day, President Biden has delivered the most important thing that this country has ever needed, and that is competency in lieu of chaos," Phillips said earlier this year ahead of the president's State of the Union address.

But Phillips contends that despite his past praise of Biden, he can effectively offer his candidacy to voters looking for an alternative to the president.

Insider reached out to a representative of Phillips for comment.

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