By Tanisha Bhat
Boston University News Service
Manchester, N.H. — Rep. Dean Phillips lost the New Hampshire Democratic primary elections after winning less than 20% of the vote, as of Wednesday morning. The Minnesota congressman said he will continue his presidential campaign after coming in second to President Joe Biden who won 53% of the primary votes. Author and politician Marianne Williamson secured 4.7% of the vote, putting her in third place behind Phillips.
“Nikki Hailey just said she’s been here working for a year. Well, we’ve been at this for 10 weeks … We just earned 20% [of the vote] tonight and no one knew who we were. So I gotta say, if we had 20 weeks — watch the heck out,” Phillips said at his post-election event to a crowd of supporters.
Biden skipped the New Hampshire election to make South Carolina — the state that gave him his first primary win back in 2020 — his campaign’s first primary. Despite not being on the New Hampshire ballot this year, a write-in campaign unaffiliated with the official Biden campaign encouraged Democratic voters to write his name in.
Phillips congratulated Biden on his win, but also said that Biden’s performance did not match the expectations many held for a strong incumbent president.
“The polls are saying he cannot win. His approval numbers are saying he can’t win,” Phillips said. “The fact that an unknown congressman from Minnesota two weeks before the [Oct. 27 N.H. filing deadline] said ‘I’m gonna come up here and run for president’ just got [20%] — that’s saying something too.”
Phillips said that he decided to run for president to prevent former President Donald Trump from winning, and also to give Democratic voters more options other than Biden.
“I did this because we need to beat Donald Trump and I did this because of something much more important than that, too. I’ve been listening and I’ve been hearing some of the saddest stories you could possibly imagine from hard-working people all throughout this state,” he said Tuesday night.
Some of Philip’s policy initiatives include providing Medicare for all, lowering economic inequality, taking more actions to reduce the effects of climate change, comprehensive immigration reform and making higher education more affordable.
Catherine Johnson, a New Hampshire resident and Phillips supporter, said she was upset that the Democratic National Committee decided to skip the state’s primary — which is supposed to be the first primary election in the country.
“I’ve gone to about 80 events on the mostly Republican side because I love the diversification of the primary,” Johnson said. “I think it’s like a sacred tradition in New Hampshire and the DNC really took that away from me this year. I’m really disappointed.”
People from different parts of the country traveled to New Hampshire to support their preferred candidate. Alan Schinazi traveled from Providence, R.I. to support Phillips in the primaries.
“He is really the candidate that I’ve been waiting for my whole life,” Schinazi said. “Somebody who is running for the right reasons. Just because the country needs someone to stand up, who is willing to take the political risk, to take the beating and has a positive outlook.”
Lincoln Anniballi, a Massachusetts resident and student at Hofstra University, said he really likes the way Phillips communicates with voters and that he is more progressive than Biden.
“My top issues are securing Medicare for all. A huge priority. Comprehensive immigration reform is necessary and needed. That’s humanitarian. And just foreign policy generally having a more peace oriented approach rather than a war oriented approach,” he said.
Johnson added that although she plans to vote for Biden in November, Phillips earned her vote in the primary because he did a lot of local campaigning and talked to many voters.
“Dean was on the ground and retail politics in New Hampshire is miles and miles of pounding and answering every question. Dean did it well, and I wanted to reward that,” she said. “I also think that he’s moderate. I think he’s willing to work across the aisle … I just wanted to send a message to him that I appreciate it.”
Some supporters said their number one issue heading into the general election is protecting democracy and Congress’s inability to compromise and pass legislation.
“Protecting the democracy is number one. That is first and foremost. I like a number of his positions. I disagree on some, but it’s all about the character of the candidate to me,” Schinazi said.
“The Republicans won’t fix the border now because it’s an election year,” Johnson said. “This won’t happen because the Dems don’t want to give a wedge to the Republicans. How about just doing the work for the people?”