Dean Phillips

Birth Name: Dean Benson Pfefer

Place of Birth: Saint Paul, Minnesota, U.S. (usually cited as)

Date of Birth: January 20, 1969

Ethnicity: Ashkenazi Jewish

Dean Phillips is an American politician and businessperson. A member of the Democratic Party, he has been a Member of the U.S. House of Represenatives from Minnesota, since January 3, 2019. He has started and owned companies, including co-owning Penny’s Coffee and, previously, Talenti gelato; and has served as president and CEO of the Phillips Distilling Company.

He is a candidate for the Democratic Party’s nomination for President of the United States in 2024.

Dean is the son of DeeDee and Arthur Thomas “Artie” Pfefer. His father was killed in the Vietnam War when Dean was six months. His stepfather, Edward Jay “Eddie” Phillips, was the son of Morton Bernard Phillips and advice columnist and radio show host Pauline Phillips (born Pauline Esther Friedman), known as “Dear Abby”/Abigail Van Buren; Pauline founded Dear Abby in 1956. Eddie was the heir to the Phillips Distilling Company, which Dean has run. Dean’s mother and stepfather married in 1971. His step-aunt, Jeanne Phillips, is also an advice columnist, who took over her mother Pauline’s column Dear Abby in 2000. His step-great-aunt was advice columnist Eppie Lederer/Ann Landers, known for her column “Ask Ann Landers.” Dean is married to Annalise Glick. He has two children with his former wife Karin Einisman.

Both Dean’s parents, and stepfather, were/are Jewish. He was raised mostly in Edina, MN.

Dean’s Phillips line can be traced to his step-great-great-grandfather, Moses Barel/David Phillips.

Dean’s paternal grandfather was named Victor Samuel Pfefer (the son of Max Pfefer and Annie). Victor was a Russian Jewish/Romanian Jewish immigrant.

Dean’s paternal grandmother was Ruth Alpern (the daughter of Israel Alpern/Halpern and Sarah Hinde Rabinowitz). Ruth was born in Minnesota, to Polish Jewish parents. Israel was the son of Herschel Alpern and Leah Lurje/Lurie.

Dean’s maternal grandfather was Donald Ellery Litin/Litinsky (the son of Abraham Harry Litinsky and Anna/Anne Weisberg). Donald was born in Minneapolis, Hennepin, Minnesota, to Russian Jewish/Polish Jewish parents. Abraham was the son of Benjamin Litinsky and Rose.

Dean’s maternal grandmother was Gayle E. Johnson (the daughter of Yale E. Johnson and Sara/Sarah R. Kapplin). Gayle was born in Minneapolis, Hennepin, Minnesota. Yale and Sara were born in Minnesota, both of them to Russian Jewish parents. Yale was the son of Sam Johnson and Jennie.

Two people of Jewish heritage have been nominated for President of the United States by a major party. Barry Goldwater, nominated by the Republican Party in 1964, was the first (Goldwater was born to a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother, and was raised an Episcopalian). John Kerry, nominated by the Democratic Party in 2004, was the second (Kerry’s paternal grandparents were born Jewish, though Kerry’s father and Kerry himself were raised Catholic).

Joe Lieberman, who is Jewish, was nominated for Vice President of the United States by the Democratic Party in 2000.

Five people of Jewish heritage have won a major party’s Presidential caucus and/or primary:
*Barry Goldwater (1964, the year he was nominated; Republican; won 7 states; Goldwater also sought the 1960 Republican nomination)
*John Kerry (2004, the year he was nominated; Democratic; won 51 contests)
*Wesley Clark (who sought the 2004 Democratic nomination; won 1 state, Oklahoma; Clark was born to a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother, and is a practicing Catholic)
*Bernie Sanders (who sought the Democratic nomination in 2016 and 2020; in 2016, he won 23 contests; in 2020, he won 9 contests)
*Michael Bloomberg (who sought the 2020 Democratic nomination; won 1 territory, American Samoa)

Of the five, Bernie Sanders and Michael Bloomberg are Jewish by religion, and Sanders is the first person of Jewish religion to have won a caucus and/or primary for a major American political party’s Presidential nomination (the 2016 New Hampshire primary).

Other people of significant Jewish heritage who have mounted or are mounting plausible or semi-plausible campaigns for a major party’s nomination for President of the United States are:
*Milton Shapp (who sought the 1976 Democratic nomination)
*Larry Agran (who sought the 1992 Democratic nomination)
*Arlen Specter (who sought the 1996 Republican nomination)
*Joe Lieberman (who sought the 2004 Democratic nomination)
*John H. Cox (who sought the 2008 Republican nomination)
*Fred Karger (who sought the 2012 Republican nomination)
*Marianne Williamson (who sought the 2020 and 2024 Democratic nominations)
*Michael Bennet (who sought the 2020 Democratic nomination)
*Tom Steyer (who sought the 2020 Democratic nomination)

Shapp, Agran, Specter, Lieberman, Karger, and Williamson were/are all Jewish by religion. Bennet and Steyer were raised in mixed-faith households, Bennet with a Jewish mother and Steyer with a Jewish father. Shapp was the first person of Jewish religion to mount a prominent campaign for a major party’s nomination for President of the United States.

Kirsten Gillibrand, a Catholic with a Jewish great-grandfather, also sought the 2020 Democratic nomination.

Sources: Genealogy of Dean Phillips – https://www.geni.com

Dean’s paternal grandmother, Ruth Alpern, on the 1930 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org

Dean’s maternal grandfather, Donald Ellery Litin/Litinsky, on the 1930 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org

Dean’s maternal grandmother, Gayle E. Johnson, on the 1930 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org

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