The Democratic National Committee has upped the requirements for its presidential candidates to make the cut in this fall’s primary debates, much to the ire of struggling 2020 contenders and their supporters.
What are the details?
In order to hit the stage in the first two debates this summer, the field of 23 Democratic White House hopefuls must either show they have at least 65,000 donors or hit the 1 percent mark in three qualified polls, according to Politico.
On Wednesday, the DNC announced it has essentially doubled those requirements for candidates to participate in following debates set for September and October, raising the minimum threshold to 130,000 unique donors and 2 percent in four polls in an effort to cull the herd.
Struggling candidates are crying foul. The Wall Street Journal reported that after the announcement, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet told reporters Wednesday that the tougher requirements are “completely arbitrary.”
“I don’t think they should be winnowing the field,” said Bennet, who threw his hat in the ring earlier this month. “And I certainly don’t think the DNC should be favoring national fundraising and cable television over the early states like New Hampshire.”
Former Rep. John Delaney (Md.) wrote a letter to DNC chairman Tom Perez requesting more transparency on how the new rules were determined. According to The Washington Post, Delaney “has been largely self-funding his campaign and did not intend to devote great energy to raising money at this point.”
Delaney argued, “Forty percent of the American people can’t afford their basic needs like food, utilities, and housing, so obviously they’re voiceless in this process. If you can’t afford your basic needs, you’re not giving money to candidates. Why is that a good decision for the party?”
Political operatives have also pushed back against the new rules.
Sayo Bhojwani, founder of the purportedly nonpartisan group, New American Leaders, even went so far as to allege the new guidelines were racist and sexist, telling Axios, “The DNC’s new rules, coming so early in the cycle, will amplify the harm done to diverse candidates by a political elite — from pollsters to talking heads — dominated by white male gatekeepers.”
Democratic strategist Jess Morales Rocketto echoed the same sentiments to Politico, saying, “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look at that criteria and know who’s going to get kicked out. It’s easy to see that the debates in the fall are going to be a bunch of white men and, if that’s the case, that’s a big misstep.”
The New York Times reported that 19 candidates so far have qualified for the first debate scheduled in Miami June 26-27.
According to the Associated Press, current projections show former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Kamala Harris (Calif.), Bernie Sanders (Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (Texas) and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg are least likely to be threatened by the higher thresholds for the fall debates.