Democrat challenger to Phillips says he doesn’t live in Third District, but plans to move there

Ron Harris, a DNC Executive Committee member and strong Biden supporter, launched his campaign Oct. 13, saying he will run for the DFL nomination regardless of what Phillips does.

Ron Harris, a DNC Executive Committee member and strong Biden supporter, launched his campaign Oct. 13, saying he will run for the DFL nomination regardless of what Phillips does. (Ron Harris/Facebook)

It’s been just over a week since rising Democrat politico Ron Harris hinted at and then officially announced he’s challenging incumbent (and likely presidential candidate) Dean Phillips for Minnesota’s Third Congressional District seat.

In the first days of Harris’s campaign, the former Minneapolis chief resilience officer and current member of the Democratic National Committee has been busy. He’s begun piecing together a campaign team, started soliciting donations and has interviewed with more than a handful of local and national media outlets since he announced he’ll seek the DFL nomination for CD3 (which represents the Twin Cities west metro in the U.S. House of Representatives).

But one thing Harris has yet to check off his “to do” list: move to the Third Congressional District he wants to represent.

“I don’t live in the Third (Congressional District), I’m a product of the Third District,” Harris said in an interview on WCCO Radio last week when asked to confirm rumors about his current residence.

“You know, I grew up in Coon Rapids, my mom was an assistant principal in the district. My family planted a church in the district. We’ve helped countless homeless families in the district … that’s where I grew up and that’s the values that have shaped me.”

“But I do plan to move to the district soon, and I am excited to be back home,” Harris added in his 15-minute segment with morning show host Jordana Green. “I’m excited to continue to serve in the ways that I can, and I am excited to see the ways that the district has changed a lot in the last few years.”

Staff members with Harris’s fledgling campaign team didn’t return a request for comment on Friday when asked to confirm where Harris currently resides.

In a social media post earlier this month, three-term incumbent Phillips said about Harris not currently living in the congressional district he’s seeking to represent, “As a MN-03 voter myself, I prefer candidates who actually live in the district, but competition is good for democracy and everyone’s invited!”

The federal constitution doesn’t require that an individual seeking to run for the U.S. House of Representatives lives in the district they serve. Article 1, Sec. 1 only requires a member of Congress to live in the state in which they would serve when they are elected.

In 2016, Jason Lewis, a Republican candidate for U.S. House, lived in Woodbury, just outside the boundaries of the Second Congressional District he would go on to represent for one term.

In recent days, Harris engaged with critics on Twitter (also known as X) who criticized him for not currently living in the congressional district he wants to represent.

“(R)epresenting the people of #mn03 is not something you should do if you don’t live there, like (R)on,” a man claiming to live in Minneapolis said in a reply to a tweet from Harris on Thursday.

“Grew up in Coon Rapids! I went to school & my family planted a church in the district. I do everything but sleep in #MN03,” Harris replied back. “In 2021, home affordability was very real to me & I bought just outside the district — an issue folks know all too well. That said, I’ll be moving back!”

A DFL-referendum on Biden?                 

If Phillips were to seek a fourth term in Congress, he has already branded himself to his DFL constituency as a critic of Biden’s ability to win the 2024 election and serve out a second term, citing his age.

In his Oct. 16 interview with WCCO Radio, Harris, who is well-connected in DNC circles in Washington and in the Upper Midwest, intimated that’s precisely why he’s running to unseat Phillips.

While Harris said he has a lot of respect for Phillips’ ability to turn the district blue in 2018, “we have a difference of opinion, of course, on how to approach the 2024 presidential nomination.”

“I think that we know who our nominee is going to be,” Harris continued. “It’s going to be President Joe Biden. He’s the incumbent, that means he is going to be the nominee. So I think we should be spending our time figuring out, how do we tell the message of the good work that has happened because of this administration?’ And also how do we draw the contrasts between the work we currently have and what we stand to lose in 2024 with Donald Trump winning that election?”

On Thursday, Harris delivered a cryptic shot at Phillips’ continued flirtation with running for president, when he told his followers on social media, “Representing the people of #MN03 is not a consolation prize.”


Hank Long

Hank Long is a journalism and communications professional whose writing career includes coverage of the Minnesota legislature, city and county governments and the commercial real estate industry. Hank received his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota, where he studied journalism, and his law degree at the University of St. Thomas. The Minnesota native lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and four children. His dream is to be around when the Vikings win the Super Bowl.