(WASHINGTON) — Though President Joe Biden has yet to announce his anticipated reelection bid, he will now have at least one long shot challenger from within his own party, with self-help author and former political candidate Marianne Williamson formally launching her 2024 campaign on Saturday.
But leading Democrats tell ABC News they don’t anticipate a traditional primary playing out between now and the nominating convention next year — with many aligned behind Biden’s expected campaign for a second term, which is thought to be launching in the coming months.
The Democratic National Committee, the campaign arm of the party, has been committed for years to keeping Biden on Pennsylvania Avenue. When asked by Politico in August 2022 about how they might deal with a primary challenge, DNC executive director Sam Cornale put it bluntly: “We’re with Biden. Period.”
The group also unanimously passed a resolution during their February winter meeting expressing their “full and complete support” for a second term for Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
That view hasn’t changed in light of Williamson, who during the 2020 race qualified for only two presidential debate stages and suspended her campaign before the Iowa caucuses.
Democrats don’t plan on holding primary debates, either.
On Friday, another potential long shot Democratic hopeful, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., will speak at the New Hampshire National Politics Institute for their “Politics and Eggs” speaker series, an event that historically draws notable political figures, including potential presidential hopefuls.
“This platform is the premier stop for prospective presidential candidates,” said Neil Levesque, the executive director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics and Political Library at Saint Anselm College, when he announced Kennedy’s speech.
Kennedy, an activist, attorney and self-described “lifelong Democrat” and son of one of America’s most famous families, has in recent years stirred controversy for his support of conspiracies about the COVID-19 vaccines, garnering support from some unlikely bedfellows on the right.
“RFK Jr. could jump into the Republican primary for president, and only DeSantis and Trump, I think, would do better,” former Trump adviser Steve Bannon recently said on MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s streaming program, Lindell TV.
Without institutional support, a track record of support with voters or a real appetite among party officials for a contested primary, neither Williamson nor Kennedy have a realistic shot at replacing Biden, despite polling showing Democratic voters are apathetic at the idea of the president being renominated.
But both Kennedy and Williamson have taken advantage of a pocket of opportunity in New Hampshire, which is unlikely to see Biden campaigning on the ground before the so-called “Super Tuesday” primary date due to changes in the DNC’s calendar. New Hampshire Democrats have said such changes pave the way for local insurgency — and now that may be bearing fruit, with Kennedy appearing there and Williamson spending time in the state prior to her launch.
In January, Kennedy sent an open letter to the DNC, imploring the committee to retain New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary status.
“Like many people, I have spent the past few years thinking deeply about the issues facing America. Our nation is at a crossroads. Next year’s election will be the most important of our lifetimes. For more than a century, New Hampshire has been fertile ground for the strongest Democratic candidates. Now, more than ever, it is important that the Democratic Party have a primary campaign that produces our party’s most competitive candidate,” he wrote.
New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley told ABC News that the calendar shuffle, which means the state won’t be an early focus of the party in the primary, does create “an opportunity for any number of [other] individuals to make a national name for themselves.”
“It just gives Republicans a great tool to play mischief by declaring that [Democrat] a front-runner and all sorts of other stuff that Fox News, etc., would love to do,” Buckley said.
ABC News’ Isabella Murray contributed to this report.
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