OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
For months, an increasing number of Democrats have been whispering that they are not thrilled at the prospect of President Joe Biden running again in 2024.
With the country in economic dire straits amid high inflation caused by rising gas, fuel, food, and commodities prices, lingering supply chain issues, a chaotic southwestern border, and other issues, Biden’s approval rating and that of Vice President Kamala Harris have tanked, hovering somewhere between the mid-to-upper thirties, depending on the survey.
That has left many Democrats already frantic about the November midterms scrambling to find a more competitive alternative to Biden — and perhaps even Harris — ahead of 2024.
And now Biden has his first official primary challenger: political activist Jerome Segal, who says he will focus his campaign on job security and peace in the Middle East, according to Newsweek, which adds:
Segal’s announcement came less than a week after he conceded the Democratic gubernatorial primary in Maryland. He ran in a crowded primary, losing to Oprah-backed Wes Moore, who was declared the winner late Friday and will go on to run against Trump-backed Dan Cox in the general election. Segal garnered the second-fewest votes among the 10 Democratic candidates, receiving less than 1 percent of the vote.
Segal’s decision to run for president marks his fourth political campaign. The 78-year-old first challenged Ben Cardin in Maryland’s 2018 Senate primary. He also ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.
“I was planning to delay the announcement of my candidacy until after the mid-term elections,” Segal said in a statement on Monday, according to Newsweek. “My decision to go public right now was triggered by Joe Biden’s embarrassing trip to the Middle East.”
The founder of the socialist-leaning Bread and Roses Party, Segal went on to say that he was particularly ticked off about Biden’s comments earlier in the month where he said that the ground was “not ripe” to restart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Segal also ripped Biden for his decision “to fist bump a psychopathic killer,” a reference to the president’s interaction with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Newsweek noted: “Biden drew widespread criticism for fist bumping Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader just a few years after he had vowed to make bin Salman a ‘pariah’ in connection to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.”
Biden is a year older than Segal. His 2020 rival, former President Donald Trump, has yet to formally announce a 2024 bid but has strongly hinted that he will run.
Meanwhile, Democrats are actively mulling replacing Biden on the party’s 2024 ticket, according to a report last week in The Hill.
“Unless Biden comes to his senses and announces that he won’t run again, a contentious battle for the nomination seems very likely,” Norman Solomon, founder of the progressive network RootsAction, told the outlet.
“The president may not realize or care that the trajectory of his policies has been taking him farther and farther from the Democratic Party base, but his distance from that base would likely be catastrophic for Biden if he tries to get nominated again,” he said.
“The tone-deaf and self-centered thing for him to do would be to soldier on, insisting that he should be president until January 2029, while damaging the party’s prospects in the process,” Solomon added.
The Hill adds:
For months, Democrats have grumbled about Biden’s lack of traction and spoken about who could step up if the president chooses not to run, but most have been hesitant to say outright someone else should replace him.
That’s beginning to change.
By April, Biden’s approval rating had already fallen so low that some Democratic strategists were beginning to predict disaster for the party in the midterms.
“It’s bad,” an anonymous Democratic strategist said, according to The Hill at the time. “You have an energy crisis that’s paralyzing and inflation is at a 40-year high and we’re heading into a recession. The problem is simple. The American people have lost confidence in him.”
“Everyone needs to come to terms with the reality that we’re going to get slaughtered in November,” the strategist reportedly continued. “That’s a fact. His polling has gotten worse, not better. It’s indicative of the fact that people have lost confidence in his leadership. There’s nothing they’re going to be able to do.”