DNC vice-chairs call for more debates
© Anne Wernikoff

Two Democratic National Committee (DNC) officers are bucking party leaders and joining the growing chorus calling for more Democratic presidential debates.

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Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardDNC punts on measure to reduce role of corporate PAC money NBC, CNN to host first two Democratic presidential primary debates Exclusive: Biden almost certain to enter 2020 race MORE (D-Hawaii) and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, both of whom are DNC vice-chairs, wrote a joint Facebook post on Wednesday night urging the national party to add more debates and to drop the threat of exclusion for candidates that participate in unsanctioned debates.

“As vice chairs of the Democratic National Committee, we are calling for several more debates than the six currently scheduled, and withdrawing the proposed sanctions against candidates who choose to participate in non-DNC sanctioned debates,” the vice-chairs wrote. “We also encourage the DNC to consider additional ways to jointly showcase our candidates across the country.”

Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley has been lashing out at the national party for weeks now, accusing the DNC of “facilitating a coronation” for front-runner Hillary Clinton by limiting the number of debates.

A lawyer for O’Malley has also challenged the legality of a DNC rule stating that any candidate participating in an unsanctioned debate will be barred from future sanctioned debates.

The former Maryland governor is urging his supporters to join a rally outside of the DNC’s headquarters next Wednesday alongside an outside group called #AllowDebate that is similarly pushing for an expanded schedule.

The DNC has sanctioned six debates spanning October to March, a dramatic reduction from the more than two dozen debates in 2008.

O’Malley’s protest has picked up steam in recent weeks.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who's also running for the 2016 Democratic nomination, has also publicly pushed for an expanded debate schedule, as have prominent Democrats in New Hampshire and Iowa.

DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who represents Florida's 23rd Congressional District, has said she is not considering adding more debates. The DNC has defended the schedule, saying six debates and the robust schedule of cattle calls and forums available to the candidates offer them plenty of opportunities to be heard.

However, Wednesday’s Facebook post from Gabbard and Rybak was the first sign of public discord over the issue from inside the DNC.

“We are the party that represents democratic principles, openness and transparency, and ensuring that all people, regardless of who they are or where they are from, have a level playing field and equal opportunity,” Gabbard and Rybak wrote. “By limiting Democratic debates to just six, more people will feel excluded from our political process, rather than included. As Democrats, we believe the more people are engaged in the process and the exchange of ideas, the better off we are as a nation.”