Dean Phillips is the first prominent Democrat to launch an intraparty challenge against President Joe Biden.

Wait, who?

Phillips, a third-term congressman and multimillionaire from Minnesota, has little name recognition outside his home state and just a few months to not only introduce himself to voters, but persuade them to support him over the incumbent president.

Standing in the way of Phillips achieving the nearly politically impossible are a Democratic establishment and donor base that have largely united behind Biden.

Phillips has faced long odds before, though not of this magnitude. He became the first Democrat in more than 50 years to represent Minnesota's Third Congressional District, which encompasses suburbs west of the Twin Cities, when he won election in 2018.

Here's what you need to know about Phillips as he mounts his longshot campaign.

Wealthy upbringing

Phillips, 54, comes from wealth but wasn't born into it. Six months after he was born in St. Paul, his father, a U.S. Army captain, was killed in Vietnam. His mother, DeeDee, remarried Eddie Phillips, CEO of Phillips Distilling Company, who adopted him after the wedding in 1972.

Phillips describes his adoptive family as one of "great achievement and high expectations." His adoptive grandmother wrote the famous advice column, "Dear Abby."

The Minnesota Democrat received a bachelor's degree in urban studies from Brown University and later joined the family business, Phillips Distilling Company. He worked on the bottling line and in the warehouse before ascending to international salesman and, eventually, CEO.

A few years after his adoptive father died of multiple myeloma, Phillips left the family business to join what was then a small gelato company called Talenti. Phillips helped build Talenti into one of the country's largest gelato brands and best-selling ice creams.

Today, Phillips estimates his own net worth at around $50 million. He said he's loaning his fledgling presidential campaign $2 million to get started and will call donors to fund it going forward.

Phillips has two daughters, Daniela and Pia. He lives in Wayzata with his wife, Annalise.

Unconventional approach

The election of former President Donald Trump was a driving force behind Phillips' entrance into politics. He often recalls seeing his two daughters react in fear to Trump's election.

In his 2018 race against Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen, Phillips proved to be a formidable campaigner. He took his slogan of "Everyone's Invited!" to heart, trekking the Third District in a 1960s milk truck dubbed the "Government Repair Truck" and offering coffee and conversation to voters.

That accessible approach helped him defeat Paulsen and lock down a previously Republican district. Phillips won re-election by comfortable margins in 2020 and 2022.

As a congressman, Phillips has continued to engage his constituents in creative ways.

He's hosted "Common Ground" events, bringing Democrat and Republican constituents together for civil discussions on policy issues. And last year he began giving local businesses the opportunity to "offer Dean a job" so he can hear their challenges firsthand; he's served bubble tea at the Mall of America, naan-style pizzas at an Eden Prairie restaurant and repaired tires at a family-owned service shop in Minnetonka, among other jobs.

Congressional career

In Washington, D.C., Phillips has sought bipartisanship while also voting for many of Biden's priorities. He's a member of the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus and was once the group's vice chair.

Even Phillips' Republican colleagues have spoken highly of him, saying despite their policy differences, they respect his desire to better the country.

Along with other members of the Problem Solvers Caucus, Phillips met with Trump at the White House in 2019 to discuss ending a government shutdown. He also worked with Texas Republican Rep. Chip Roy on the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act that was signed into law by Trump.

In his congressional office, Phillips displays a note from Roy and the pen from when Trump signed the bill as a reminder of the bipartisan win.

After last year's midterm elections, House Democrats elected Phillips a co-chair of their Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, a leadership position that gave him an influential say in the caucus' messaging and branding.

But the good will Phillips built with his Democratic colleagues began to erode after the Minnesotan began calling for Biden to "pass the torch" and not run for re-election. Most prominent Democrats, in Washington and Minnesota, have criticized Phillips for launching a primary campaign against Biden.

Last month, Phillips stepped down from his Democratic leadership post.

Challenging Biden

Phillips said Democrats are "sleepwalking" into a repeat of the 2016 election, when Trump upset Hillary Clinton.

Biden "is one of the only Democrats who I believe can lose the next election, and that's why I believe we need competition," Phillips said. He often cites Biden's low approval rating and polls showing the president is either deadlocked with or trailing Trump.

But on policy matters, Phillips has yet to differentiate himself from Biden. A key area where Phillips said he thinks Biden has failed is in uniting Americans.

"I'm bringing a voice of optimism to a country that is in so desperate need of unification. Bringing together teams of rivals — that's the failure right now. The failure to bring together a country that is literally ripping apart at the seams. I know how to do that," Phillips said in an interview with WCCO Radio on Wednesday.

It remains unclear what exactly Phillips could do to unify a deeply divided country.

His odds of successfully toppling the incumbent president are slim. He'll need a strong showing in the early voting state of New Hampshire, where Biden won't be on the ballot, to give his campaign momentum.

Phillips is risking his political future by challenging the president. Not only could he be defeated by Biden, but he could lose his congressional seat to a Democratic challenger back home in Minnesota and potentially weaken the president ahead of an anticipated rematch with Trump.