Perez defends debate requirements after four 2020 Democrats fail to qualify

Perez defends debate requirements after four 2020 Democrats fail to qualify
© Greg Nash

Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Tom PerezThomas Edward 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 on Friday defended his organization’s qualification requirements for the first Democratic primary debates after four candidates failed to meet the threshold.

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While 20 of the candidates vying for the Democratic nomination met at least one of those requirements, four did not: Montana Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockSuper PAC seeks to spend more than million supporting Yang The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden camp faces new challenges Private flight spending soars in Democratic presidential race MORE, Rep. Seth MoultonSeth Moulton2020 Presidential Candidates Rep. Joe Kennedy has history on his side in Senate bid Mass shootings have hit 158 House districts so far this year MORE (D-Mass.), former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) and Miramar, Fla., Mayor Wayne MessamWayne Martin MessamWayne Messam raised this quarter for presidential run The Hill's 12:30 Report: Hunter Biden speaks out amid Ukraine controversy 2020 primary debate guide: Everything you need to know ahead of the October showdown MORE.

“They had a lot of time. A 1 percent bar, I think, is a fair bar. It’s hard to get a lower bar than 1 percent,” Perez said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “We gave folks a fair shake."

“We set forth these rules. I think they're fair,” he added. “They're unprecedentedly inclusive, and 10 people is enough to manage.”

To qualify for the debates on June 26 and 27, candidates had to either score 1 percent in three qualifying polls or amass support from at least 65,000 unique donors.

The first debates will be split between two nights, with no more than 10 candidates debating each night. Perez said that the DNC would hold a random drawing later Friday morning to determine which candidates will go on which night.

Bullock was initially thought to have qualified for the debate through the 1 percent polling threshold. But the DNC announced last week that it would omit a January Washington Post/ABC News poll that showed Bullock with 1 percent support from its qualifying criteria.

Without that poll, Bullock was unable to meet the three-poll minimum laid out in the DNC debate rules.

The DNC has said that it notified Bullock’s team in March that the Post/ABC poll would not count towards meeting the requirements for the first debate. Bullock’s campaign has not disputed that claim, but has still accused the committee of a “secret rule change.”

Bullock’s campaign manager Jennifer Ridder sent a letter to Perez on Thursday arguing that Bullock had met the polling criteria to qualify for the debate. That letter cited the excluded Post/ABC News poll. The DNC ultimately declined to admit the Montana governor to the debate stage.

Perez said on Thursday that both Bullock and Moulton could still qualify for the DNC’s second presidential primary debate in July, which will keep the same requirements as the June debate.

“I have great respect for Congressman Moulton and I worked closely with Gov. Bullock,” Perez said. “I think they are wonderful people, and it would not surprise me at all if they qualified for the debate stage next month.”