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Democratic challengers will stay in race after Biden wins New Hampshire primary

By Matthew Eadie, Anna Rubenstein and Adithya Iyer

MANCHESTER, N.H. — President Joe Biden won New Hampshire’s Democratic primary on Tuesday, despite not officially having his name on the ballot, requiring voters to write-in the president’s name in a landslide Democratic primary.

Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Dean Phillips speaks to supporters at a primary night event in Manchester, New Hampshire. Rep. Phillips came in second in the New Hampshire Democratic primary behind a successful write-in Biden campaign on Tuesday. MATTHEW EADIE/ DFP PHOTOGRAPHER

Undeterred by gaining less than 20% of the vote as of Tuesday at midnight, Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota, one of the few Democratic primary challengers to Biden that gained any amount of traction, declared he will continue in his campaign for the White House, hoping to test his name recognition across the country against the president. 

“If somehow Joe Biden miraculously improves and is positioned to actually win this thing, and I’m not, of course I’m going to fold it and get behind him,” Phillips told reporters after speaking to a crowd of supporters. “Right now, I don’t see that.”

Phillips, the 55-year-old U.S. representative, launched his campaign against the current president in late October, with initial polls having him in single digits. Polls in the days leading up to the primary showed Phillips projected to win anywhere from 10 to 32 percent of the vote on Tuesday. 

Hope Greene, an administrator at a Boston arts nonprofit, said she initially planned to write-in for Biden in the primaries, but ultimately decided to vote for Phillips.

“I’m deeply impressed with the fact that he’s not taking PAC money, and he doesn’t have a leadership PAC,” Green said. “I think getting money out of politics is an extremely important thing for the health of our country.”

Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson prepares to speak at a primary night event in Manchester, New Hampshire. Williamson came in third place in the New Hampshire Democratic Primary on Tuesday behind Rep. Dean Phillips and President Joe Biden. BRENDA GONZALEZ/ DFP PHOTOGRAPHER

The third of the formidable Democratic candidates, self-help author and 2020 presidential candidate Marianne Williamson, 71, received about five percent as of Tuesday at midnight, with many votes still being counted and processed.  

Dominic Trabucco, 20, a New Hampshire resident and registered Democrat, said Williamson is a voice for his generation that has given him “hope for the future.”

“Marianne has championed the policies that I believe a majority of Americans believe and I believe in,” Trabucco said. “Her personality, the person that she is, is exactly what we need in this country right now.”

Biden’s name was left off the New Hampshire primaries due to the Democratic party deciding the first primary they would actively recognize would be South Carolina’s. Supporters of Biden’s campaign, in response, led state-wide efforts to encourage Democratic primary voters to write-in the president’s name, though the New Hampshire race won’t award delegates.

Write-in efforts picked up traction in recent weeks, including political appearances of local politicians, such as Boston mayor Michelle Wu, who told reporters on Saturday that the leadership of president Biden’s administration has been “transformational.”

Jose Ortiz, living in Manchester, wrote-in Biden’s name on the ballot, saying he wants to avoid another Trump presidency and “likes the values” Democrats offer, including abortion rights and support of the middle class.

As for his thoughts on Trump, Ortiz echoed why many voters are sticking with Biden this election: so it isn’t the alternative.

“He could get us into a war,” Ortiz said. “I’m afraid of him.”

Ortiz, however, added that he likes Republican positions on immigration, saying that in a second term, Biden “should do more on the border.”

Gerianne Patti, a clinical social worker who also wrote-in Biden on her ballot, said she voted for Biden because she “cannot abide by Donald Trump as the next president,” and emphasized the need to look at the “big picture.”

“I just feel like if anyone has a chance in the Democratic Party, [Biden] would be, at this point, the best chance,” Patti said. “Any vote against Trump, no matter who the candidate, is a good vote to me.”

The next Democratic primary contest is scheduled for Feb 3. in South Carolina, where Biden will be officially on the ballot. Phillips said he is setting his eyes on the Palmetto State and then Michigan after that, vowing not to drop out until the voters know better who he is and have a chance to choose for themselves. 

“You ready to keep this baby going? Cause I sure as hell am,” Phillips said to a crowd of supporters. “I’m the only one standing in the way of [Trump].”

There was, however, one very visible Trump supporter in the crowd at Phillips’ event Tuesday night. Yehuda Miller, a Republican county committee member in New Jersey, spent the evening at Phillips’ event, sporting a red “Don’t Tread On Trump” hat. 

Miller said he attended Phillips’ event because of his slogan, “Everyone’s invited.”

“As a Trump supporter, some of the things we’re up against, I feel he’s up against as well,” he said.

Phillips addressed Miller directly during his remarks to supporters, thanking him for attending. 

In a statement from the Biden campaign following the results, campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez wrote, “One thing is increasingly clear today: Donald Trump is headed straight into a general election matchup where he’ll face the only person to have ever beaten him at the ballot box: Joe Biden.”

At Republican candidate Nikki Haley’s speech in Concord, Nick Fizzano, 19, from Ashway, R.I. said he expects to vote for Biden in Rhode Island’s primary in April, and expressed his concerns of a potential second term for former president Donald Trump. Fizzano said he was in New Hampshire on Tuesday with his presidential politics class at Quinnipiac University.

“If Donald Trump wins, I’m not one of the alarmists who say ‘America’s over,’” Fizzano said. “He represents a true threat to our constitutional process, whether it be from his idea of suspending the constitution to his lauded quote of he ‘will be a dictator on day one.’” 


Nicole Abrams, Leia Green, Teresa Jia and Gia Shin contributed to the reporting of this article. 


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