Michael Bennet meets polling criteria for first Democratic debates

Michael Bennet meets polling criteria for first Democratic debates
© Greg Nash

Presidential hopeful Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetThe Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape The Hill's Morning Report — Recession fears climb and markets dive — now what? Hickenlooper expected to end presidential bid on Thursday MORE's campaign announced Tuesday that the Colorado Democrat has met one of the two criteria that gives access to the first Democratic debates later this month.

Bennet said in a statement that he had met the polling criteria of at least 1 percent support in three polls recognized by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) after passing the threshold in a CNN survey.  

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However has not yet met the other threshold to access the debate stage: raising money from 65,000 individual donors. 

That could mean Bennet may still fail to make it to the first debates, due to take place on June 26 and 27.

Under existing rules, candidates must meet at least one of the two criteria to take part in the debates. However, the DNC will cap debates to 20 contenders, or 10 per day. 

If more than 20 qualify, the DNC has said it will prioritize candidates who meet both polling and fundraising thresholds and then use tie-breakers to determine who will appear onstage. 

Bennet appears to be the 21st Democratic candidate to qualify for the first debates under one of the criteria, according to an estimated count from The Hill. So far only 13 appear to have met both criteria.

“In the last month, Michael has told the American people the truth, and it’s clear that’s what they have been waiting to hear. Our campaign has the resources to compete and build the groundwork for a sustainable, long-term campaign,” campaign spokeswoman Shannon Beckham said in a statement.

“It’s a shame the DNC has set up a system to reward cable TV hits and short-term fundraising tactics, instead of facilitating a competition of ideas. The DNC should be lifting up credible voices—not excluding them," she added. "Regardless of DNC power plays, Michael knows that winning in 2020 starts in living rooms across America.”

The DNC has increased the threshold for participation in the third and fourth presidential debates.

Bennet's campaign also said that the senator, who announced his presidential bid in May, raised more than $2 million. It noted that his CNN town hall last week resulted in the greatest number of individual donations since the campaign launched. 

Bennet is among 24 candidates competing for the Democratic presidential nomination. He entered the race in early May, months after some other candidates, after being found to be cancer-free following a surgery.  

— Updated at 2:00 p.m.