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Securing a Debate Slot Just Got Tougher for Democrats

The second round of primary debates has new thresholds
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 29, 2019 12:40 PM CDT
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In this April 3, 2019, photo, Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, speaks during the National Action Network Convention in New York.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

(Newser) – The Democratic National Committee is upping the ante for its second round of presidential primary debates, doubling the polling and grassroots fundraising requirements from its initial summer debates. The parameters, announced Wednesday, are likely to help cull a crop of 24 candidates and, in the process, intensify scrutiny on Democratic Chairman Tom Perez and his pledge to give all candidates a chance to be heard. The DNC's outline for its Sept. 12 debate decrees that candidates can participate only by reaching 2% in four approved polls released between June 28 and Aug. 28 while also collecting contributions from a minimum of 130,000 unique donors before Aug. 28. That donor list must include a minimum of 400 individuals in at least 20 states, reports the AP.

The top of the field likely would not be threatened by upping the threshold. That includes Joe Biden; Sens. Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren; Beto O'Rourke; and Pete Buttigieg. However, the other candidates, including more senators and several governors, remain jumbled at or near the lower thresholds set for the first round of debates, which are June 26-27 in Miami and July 30-31 in Detroit. Entrepreneur Andrew Yang and author Marianne Williamson have attracted significant small-donor fundraising but have yet to hit 2% in most polls. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has struggled with fundraising and might have trouble clearing 2% consistently in polls. Jay Inslee just hit the 65,000-donor mark but would have to increase his pace to reach 130,000 by the Aug. 28 deadline, and he's also rarely checked in at higher than 1% in polls.

(Read more Election 2020 stories.)

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