DNC announces lineup for first debate

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) announced on Thursday the 20 Democrats running for president who will take part in the first debate later this month, with four left off the prime-time stage.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the race’s current front-runner, was among those candidates who made the cut, as were Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

The other qualifying candidates are: South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg; former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas); Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.); Washington Gov. Jay Inslee; former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper; Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.); best-selling author Marianne Williamson; former tech executive Andrew Yang; Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio); Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.); former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro; New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and former Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.).

Four candidates did not make the stage: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) and Miramar, Fla., Mayor Wayne Messam.

{mosads}The debate marks the first time that so many 2020 contenders will share the stage at the same time, making it prime real estate for candidates — especially those struggling to break through in the race — to pitch their visions to voters.

But the candidates who didn’t qualify will likely find their campaigns on life support, struggling for new donations and media attention in the crowded field of 24 people.

The first debate will be split between two nights on June 26 and 27, with 10 candidates onstage each night. It will be broadcast on MSNBC, Telemundo and NBC. 

It’s still unknown which candidates will debate on which night. A lottery to determine the debate lineup will be held at NBC headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York on Friday. 

The candidates with the highest polling averages will be split between the two nights along with candidates with lower polling averages to ensure there is no perception of a “junior” debate. 

To qualify for the June debate, presidential hopefuls had to either collect contributions from at least 65,000 unique donors, including 200 in 20 different states, or notch at least 1 percent support in three polls.

Out of the 20 candidates who qualified for the first debate, 14 met both thresholds, while six met only the polling requirement. 

Candidates left out will have another chance to make the debate in July under the same criteria, before they are set to double for debates in the fall. 

But not making it to the stage in June will likely deal a consequential blow.

Bullock on Thursday disputed the DNC’s conclusion, arguing he had met the polling threshold and challenging the committee’s decision to not count a January survey published Feb. 9 by The Washington Post and ABC News. That survey asked voters which candidate they would support without naming the candidates itself, a type of question pollsters call open-ended.

The Montana governor entered the race in May, months after some of the candidates, saying he was focused on his work in the state.

Meanwhile, Moulton, who entered the race in April, sought to play down the impact of his exclusion from the June debate, saying he was “not losing any sleep over it.”

“I knew that getting in the race so late there was a strong chance I’d miss the first debate—and yes, I will. But fear not! I’m not losing any sleep over it, and neither should you,” the Massachusetts congressman said in an email to supporters. 

“This race is a marathon, not a sprint,” he added. 

— Updated at 6:16 p.m.

Tags 2020 election Amy Klobuchar Andrew Yang Bernie Sanders Beto O'Rourke Bill de Blasio Cory Booker Democratic National Committee Democratic primary Elizabeth Warren Eric Swalwell first Democratic debate Jay Inslee Joe Biden John Delaney John Hickenlooper Kirsten Gillibrand Marianne Williamson Michael Bennet Pete Buttigieg Seth Moulton Steve Bullock Tim Ryan Tulsi Gabbard Wayne Messam
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