Democratic U.S. Representative Dean Phillips, who has floated a possible primary run against President Joe Biden for the 2024 election, has decided to step down from his leadership role in the House of Representatives, a spokesperson said on Sunday.
Phillips, 54, who represents part of Minnesota, is one of few elected Democrats at the federal level who openly supports a competitive process for the party’s presidential nomination. He has said he was concerned about 80-year-old Biden’s electability and that it is time for a new generation of leaders.
Phillips has said he might not be the person to take on Biden, given his relatively low name recognition and tepid support among most establishment Democrats, but he has repeatedly declined to rule out a run.
Biden is set to take on a Republican challenger in 2024. Opinion polls show a rematch with former President Donald Trump, who he defeated in 2020 and is the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, would be competitive.
On Friday, presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy Jr. strongly implied that he will launch an independent run, rather than continue to pursue his longshot bid against Biden as a Democrat. The possibility of a third party candidacy has created jitters in Democratic circles that Kennedy could peel off votes from the president in the general election.
“My convictions relative to the 2024 presidential race are incongruent with the majority of my caucus, and I felt it appropriate to step aside from elected leadership,” Phillips said in a statement, first reported by Axios.
Phillips had been the co-chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, which plays a research, policymaking and communications role for House Democrats.