Democrats in Minnesota's U.S. House delegation are split on whether President Joe Biden should run for a second term, with some wanting new leadership and others saying those calls undermine the party heading into this year's midterm elections.
In the past two weeks, moderate Democrats U.S. Reps. Angie Craig and Dean Phillips both said a "new generation" of Democrats should step into leadership. Their comments come as some Democrats are privately concerned about a second term for Biden, who is lagging in polls and would turn 82 shortly after the 2024 election.
"Many Minnesotans, myself included, are ready to see a new generation of leaders in the Democratic Party, and I will do everything in my power to help those new leaders up and down the ballot," Craig said Wednesday in a statement to the Star Tribune.
Craig first commented to MinnPost on Tuesday, just days after Phillips made a similar call. She represents the competitive Second District, which stretches from the southern suburbs to north of Rochester and Winona.
Phillips, who represents the Third District spanning the western suburbs, said late last month that he doesn't want Biden to run for president again in 2024, becoming one of the first Democrats in Congress to say he should step aside.
"As we navigate domestic division and build a bright, prosperous, and secure future for America, I believe it's time for a new generation of dynamic Democratic leadership in Congress and in the White House," Phillips said.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, a nationally known progressive who represents the Fifth District that includes Minneapolis and eastern Hennepin County, told the Star Tribune on Tuesday she would endorse Biden if he runs for re-election. And, she said, Democrats speaking against the president running for a second term are not helping the party's midterm election prospects.
"I actually don't think it's helpful for us to be out talking about change in leadership as we are fighting to keep the House, extend the Senate in this crucial and critical midterm where all of our freedoms are on the ballot," Omar said in an interview. "Our democracy's in peril. Our right to privacy and bodily autonomy is being threatened ... We have to do everything that we can to stick together and make it through this midterm."
U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, a progressive Democrat representing the Fourth District covering St. Paul, most of Ramsey County and parts of Washington County, also said these discussions are "distracting Democrats from the task at hand." She did not specifically say if she would support a second term for Biden.
"Our nation is facing serious challenges that demand President Biden and this White House to be 100% focused on governing, not an election twenty-seven months away," McCollum said in a statement to the Star Tribune. "Right now, my priority is ensuring Democrats win in November."