MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Dean Phillips, heir to Phillips Distilling company, has launched his Congressional campaign to run against Rep. Erik Paulsen (R) for the third Congressional District.
Phillips, told the Star Tribune that he believes “that [his] experience building businesses and taking care of employees and enriching communities where [he does] business are principles the district and the country can put to use.” Phillips holds multiple positions including being a co-founder of a successful gelato brand, Talenti, and also the co-founder of a downtown coffee shop, Penny’s Coffee. Penny’s Coffee has instituted a $15 minimum wage for its employees.
Phillips has also been on multiple board positions including for Allina Hospitals and Clinics, University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and his families own philanthropy organization, The Phillips Family Foundation.
The Phillips Family Foundation states that its two key priorities in funding are to “1. Help people in poverty attain economic stability. 2. Combat discrimination and address inequities.” In terms of the first goal, the foundation’s website claims that they do this through funding of employment, housing, education, and transit. The foundation also claims to support advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights, access to affordable reproductive health services, and advancing equity for all races.
In an interview, Phillips stated that he is “concerned about the direction in which our country is headed.” Specifically, he pointed to the recent vote by the GOP on the American Health Care Act (AHCA) as a motivating factor in his decision to launch his campaign this week.
However, while this may be the first time that Phillips is entering the political arena, he has certainly been a significant political contributor since 2000. In the last election cycle, Phillips donated $2,700 to Hillary for America through the Phillips Family Partnership on April 23, 2015 and an additional $2,700 on June 22, 2015, through the same organization. He also contributed $10,000 to the Minnesota DFL on February 15, 2016, via Talenti Gelato. There is also strong evidence that he has been looking to remove Paulsen from his seat before entering the 2018 elections cycle, as he donated $2,700 to Terri Bonoff for Congress, again via Talenti Gelato. All in all, Phillips sunk $25,300 into all democrat and left leaning campaign organizations in 2015-2016 election cycle.
Paulsen has served for five terms now and is a member of the Ways and Means Committee. Paulsen won the last election against Terri Bonoff with 56.7 percent of the vote.