Two Democrats have stepped forward to shake up the 2024 presidential primary race. Outside the party, at least three independent or third-party candidates have positioned themselves to the left of Biden and could snatch votes from him in the general election.
They are all running longshot campaigns. Unsurprisingly, no top Democrat has entered the race to challenge President Joe Biden.
As The New York Times has underscored, incumbency has enormous advantages, especially at this late date. The first Democratic primary contest is on Feb. 3 in South Carolina under the party’s new calendar. Deadlines to appear on state primary ballots, which includes gathering tons of signatures, are either approaching or past.
Biden’s campaign also has deep pockets. The campaign raised more than $71 million in the three months ending on Sept. 30 – an indication that Democratic donors stand united behind Biden, the Associated Press reports.
So, Democratic heavyweights who could seriously threaten Biden are likely waiting for a 2028 White House run. Here’s a list of candidates who have thrown their hats into the ring.
Dean Phillips (Democrat)
Largely unknown before entering the race, Rep. Dean Phillips has a history of defeating incumbents. He beat a six-term Republican in 2018 to become the first Democrat to represent Minnesota’s 3rd Congressional District in 50 years, according to USA Today.
Biden and Phillips’ approach to politics appears similar. They are both bipartisan moderates willing to cross the aisle to work with Republicans. Phillips says he supports Biden’s legislative agenda and praises his job performance but wants the president to pass the baton to younger Democrats.
Phillips has an estimated net worth of $124 million, making him one of the wealthiest members of Congress. He’s the heir to one of the nation’s largest liquor dynasties, the Phillips Distilling Company.
Marianne Williamson (Democrat)
Williamson told Politico she entered the race because no one was talking about progressive issues in economics, health care, education, climate change and energy policy.
The self-help author who speaks about spiritual healing first entered politics in 2014 as an independent candidate running for California’s 33rd Congressional District.
Cornel West (Independent)
Progressive activist and scholar Cornel West announced his presidential bid on June 5 as a third-party candidate with the People’s Party.
“In these bleak times, I have decided to run for truth and justice which takes the form of running for president of the United States as a candidate for the People’s Party,” West said in a video. “I enter in the quest for truth. I enter in the quest for justice. And the presidency is just one vehicle to pursue that truth and justice that I’ve been trying to do all of my life.”
“I’m running as an Independent candidate for President of the United States to end the iron grip of the ruling class and ensure true democracy!” West wrote in a social media post, adding that “people are hungry for change,” according to the AP.
His progressive platform includes a call for economic, environmental and racial justice.
West, a longtime social justice activist, is a former Princeton and Harvard University professor. He currently teaches philosophy at Union Theological Seminary.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (Independent)
Name recognition is a plus for Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who entered the 2024 presidential race in October as an independent, bypassing the primary process.
He’s the son of former U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of President John F. Kennedy. With deep roots in the Democratic Party, Kennedy’s political maneuver disappointed his family, who called his challenge to Biden in the general election dangerous for the nation, CNN reports.
“Bobby might share the same name as our father, but he does not share the same values, vision or judgment. Today’s announcement is deeply saddening for us. We denounce his candidacy and believe it to be perilous for our country,” his family members Rory Kennedy, Kerry Kennedy, Joseph P. Kennedy II and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend said in a statement.
His platform includes various progressive policies, such as raising the minimum wage, cutting military spending to fund infrastructure projects, health care and education, and reducing the interest rate on student loans to zero.
Kennedy, who has never held public office, could rob votes from Biden in November. In addition to name recognition, he has a small but loyal following for his anti-vaccine positions. Kennedy has spread misinformation about vaccines and promoted conspiracy theories that are popular with many voters.
Jill Stein (Green Party)
Environmental activist Jill Stein is no stranger to Democrats who have blamed her for taking away just enough votes from Hillary Clinton to allow Donald Trump to win the 2016 presidential election. They fear she will do the same to Biden in 2024.
Stein announced in November that she is running for president again as the Green Party candidate. “I’m running for president to offer that choice for the people outside of the failed two-party system,” Stein said in her announcement video.
Her platform calls for economic justice, ending systemic discrimination and developing a green economy, among other progressive policies.
“Democrats have betrayed their promises for working people, youth and the climate again and again, while Republicans don’t even make such promises in the first place,” she said.
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