Nevada lawmakers slam Dean Phillips for snubbing the state


Members of Nevada’s congressional delegation on Friday rebuked Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips’s decision to skip the state’s Democratic primary in his long-shot presidential campaign.

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), known for being extremely judicious with her public statements, first reprimanded Phillips on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“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, @deanbphillips,” wrote Cortez Masto.

Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.), a member of the 2024 Biden-Harris campaign national advisory board, followed suit soon after.

“Unlike Dean Phillip’s campaign, Joe Biden knows #WeMatter. Ethnically diverse, union strong, and decidedly pro-choice. Yes, #WeMatter!” wrote Titus.

The controversy follows Phillips’s Friday announcement that he will challenge President Biden for the 2024 Democratic nomination, setting his sights on New Hampshire, though the Democratic Party has set South Carolina and Nevada as the first states to vote in the process.

While Phillips technically still has time to register as a candidate in South Carolina, he’s missed the deadline for Nevada.

Strategist Steve Schmidt, who is working with Phillips, said the campaign will “cede” Nevada, and it “doesn’t matter,” according to Politico’s Elena Schneider.

Nevada’s ascension in the Democratic primary calendar is especially significant in the Hispanic political world because it gives the state’s Latino voters an early voice in the process; South Carolina has similar significance to Black constituencies.

Yet Phillips’s focus on New Hampshire drew criticism of Phillips’s respect for voters of color and his overall campaign strategy.

“Senator Cortez Masto is absolutely right! It is an incredible insult and unbelievably disrespectful that Dean Phillips and his Republican campaign manager have literally said that Nevada doesn’t matter,” said Democratic strategist Maria Cardona in a text message.

“They are saying Latino voters don’t matter, black voters don’t matter, Asian voters don’t matter, white rural voters don’t matter, and working Americans don’t matter. They are clearly not in this to win, they are in this for clicks, and to get on TV.”

The Hill has reached out to Phillips’s campaign for comment.

Phillips’s absence from two states that are emblematic of key Democratic constituencies raised questions about the campaign’s seriousness.

“I was approached by their campaign and made a very lucrative offer that I politely turned down. And now after seeing the way that they are demonizing Latinos in Nevada and kind of scoffing at the process in Nevada, I’m really glad that I did,” said Chuck Rocha, the Democratic strategist that engineered Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders’ win in the 2020 Nevada caucuses.

In those caucuses, Sanders beat Biden among Latino voters by a 3-to-1 margin.

That win was built on a long-term outreach plan to Nevada Latinos, which started in earnest nearly a year before the caucuses.

That plan changed the rulebook on how to activate Hispanic voters, though its lessons are sometimes ignored.

“I think the campaign is starting off making the same boneheaded moves lots of Democrats do, which is thinking that only white voters matter. And as I’ve said in my entire career, you walk past the Latino neighborhoods at your own peril because every year there’s more of us and we vote at a higher percentage,” said Rocha.

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