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Dean Phillips to skip Nevada primary in challenge to Biden

Phillips’ bid — which will focus on other early states — has been panned by elected Democrats in Nevada.
Jacob Solis
Jacob Solis
Election 2024

Nevada Democrats didn’t waste time Friday in criticizing newly minted presidential candidate Rep. Dean Phillips’ (D-NM) decision to downplay the Silver State’s February presidential primary in his longshot bid to challenge incumbent President Joe Biden.

As the third-term congressman filed to run in the New Hampshire primary on Friday, Phillips campaign advisor Steve Schmidt told Politico of Nevada’s Democratic primary: “We cede that race. Doesn’t matter.” Nevada closed its filing period for presidential primary candidates on Oct. 16.

Schmidt also told reporters that the campaign would prioritize contests in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Michigan. A spokesperson for the Phillips campaign did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment. 

The snub triggered an immediate outpouring of criticism from some of Nevada’s top Democrats. 

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that “the path to the White House runs through Nevada — a strong, diverse, pro-union state.” 

“You shouldn’t run for President if you’re not going to compete for Nevada voters,” Cortez Masto said. 

The Nevada State Democratic Party posted on X that skipping Nevada’s primary amounted to a “slap in the face to every Nevada voter.” Nevada State Democratic Party Chair and Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno (D-North Las Vegas) wrote on X that Phillips was “unserious.” 

“By skipping out on the first in the west primary AND one of the most diverse early states, he's disregarding our working-class state and the Latino, AAPI, and Black voters who make it up,” she posted on X.

That sentiment was echoed by Democratic Attorney General Aaron Ford (“clearly not a serious candidate”) and longtime Nevada Democratic operative Rebecca Lambe — an instrumental member of the state’s vaunted “Reid Machine.” 

“If you’re not competing in Nevada’s early primary, you’re not serious about running for President,” Lambe posted to X

Biden — who orchestrated the shift of the Democratic nominating calendar that prioritized South Carolina and Nevada over longtime early states Iowa and New Hampshire — has said he will not file for the New Hampshire primary after the state moved to place itself ahead on the calendar regardless. 

Biden filed for Nevada’s primary on Oct. 11, alongside self-help author Marianne Williamson and 11 other long-shot Democrats.


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