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Montana Gov. Steve BullockSteve Bullock65 former governors, mayors back bipartisan infrastructure deal Arkansas, New Jersey governors to head National Governors Association Biden 'allies' painting him into a corner MORE’s (D) campaign said Thursday it had met one of two thresholds set by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to qualify for the first presidential debate, essentially picking a fight that could decide the fate of his campaign.
In a letter to DNC Chairman Tom PerezThomas PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE, Bullock campaign manager Jennifer Ridder pointed to three surveys in which Bullock had received support from 1 percent of those polled.
But the DNC has already said that one of those three polls — a January survey published Feb. 9 by The Washington Post and ABC News — will not count toward the threshold. That survey asked voters which candidate they would support without naming the candidates itself, a type of question pollsters call open-ended.
Democratic campaigns had until Wednesday to demonstrate they had met one of two thresholds necessary to qualify for the debate. Besides the polling threshold, which requires candidates to register 1 percent support in three separate polls, candidates could qualify by receiving donations from at least 65,000 individuals spread across 20 states. Bullock has not yet met that threshold, so qualifying by polling is his only path to the debates.
Bullock is the most prominent candidate at risk of missing out on the debate stage. Rep. Seth MoultonSeth MoultonHow lawmakers aided the Afghan evacuation GOP lawmaker says he did not threaten US Embassy staff in Tajikistan House panel approves B boost for defense budget MORE (D-Mass.), former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) and Wayne MessamWayne Martin MessamKey moments in the 2020 Democratic presidential race so far Wayne Messam suspends Democratic presidential campaign 2020 primary debate guide: Everything you need to know ahead of the November forum MORE, the mayor of Miramar, Fla., also missed both requirements.
At least 14 candidates have met both the polling and donor criteria, guaranteeing them one of the 20 spots on the debate stage. Six other candidates have met the polling threshold, without having reached the donor threshold.
Missing the debate stage could be a consequential blow to a candidate still struggling to introduce himself after he entered the race last month. The debates, to be held June 26 and 27 in Miami, will be a chance for candidates to make their case in front of tens of millions of viewers, by far the largest platform so far in the Democratic primary process.
Ridder said registering support from an open-ended question is actually a greater sign of support than being named in a standard poll question, because voters are not prompted to remember the candidates’ names. The DNC did not explicitly rule out including polls that used open-ended questions in their initial rules.
“Since there is no sufficient warrant to exclude such a poll in either of the original rules or in the Polling Method Certification form promulgated by the DNC this week, the poll meets the DNC requirements and is valid,” Ridder wrote. “As such, Gov. Bullock has met the threshold to qualify for the first debates and he looks forward to joining his colleagues on the stage for this important occasion.”
A DNC spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But last week, spokeswoman Adrienne Watson told The Hill the DNC had told Bullock’s team months ago that the Washington Post/ABC poll would not count toward the three-poll requirement.
The DNC will hold a lottery to determine how candidates are divided between the two nights on Friday, at NBC’s headquarters in Rockefeller Center.