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Booker leads other 2020 Dems in petition urging DNC to change debate qualifications

Booker leads other 2020 Dems in petition urging DNC to change debate qualifications

Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerDemocrats introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for government discrimination Zombie Tax punishes farmers to fill DC coffers Rand Paul does not support a national minimum wage increase — and it's important to understand why MORE (D-N.J.) led several of his fellow 2020 contenders in sending a petition asking the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to change its debate qualifications. 

The New Jersey Democrat and eight other presidential candidates urged the DNC to "consider alternative debate qualification standards" for four primary debates scheduled to take place in January and Febraury in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, which will host the first four nominating contests of the 2020 primary cycle.

Booker was joined by former Vice President Joe BidenJoe Biden 64 percent of Iowans say 'time for someone else' to hold Grassley's Senate seat: poll Philadelphia shooting leaves 2 dead, injures toddler Ron Johnson booed at Juneteenth celebration in Wisconsin MORE, South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegHigh-speed rail getting last minute push in Congress Buttigieg: Bipartisan deal on infrastructure 'strongly preferred' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden ends infrastructure talks with key Republican | Colonial Pipeline CEO grilled over ransomware attack | Texas gov signs bills to improve power grid after winter storm MORE, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian CastroJulian CastroMore GOP-led states risk corporate backlash like Georgia's More than 200 Obama officials sign letter supporting Biden's stimulus plan OVERNIGHT ENERGY: McEachin signals interest in Biden administration environment role | Haaland, eyed for Interior, stresses need for Native American representation | Haaland backers ask Udall to step aside in bid for Interior post MORE, businessman Tom SteyerTom SteyerTop 12 political donors accounted for almost 1 of every 13 dollars raised since 2009: study California Democrats weigh their recall options Why we should be leery of companies entering political fray MORE, entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew YangYang, Garcia campaign together three days before NYC mayoral primary Adams, Wiley lead field in NYC mayoral primary: poll Republican House campaign arm says it will begin soliciting cryptocurrency donations MORE and Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharDemocrats scramble to unify before election bill brawl Hillicon Valley: Big Tech critic Lina Khan named chair of the FTC | Lawmakers urge Biden to be tough on cyber during summit with Putin | TSA working on additional security regulations following Colonial Pipeline hack Big Tech critic Lina Khan named chair of the FTC MORE (D-Minn.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersCentrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Democrats facing tough reelections back bipartisan infrastructure deal The Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare here to stay MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenCentrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Democrats have turned solidly against gas tax Overnight Health Care: Takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision | COVID-19 cost 5.5 million years of American life | Biden administration investing billions in antiviral pills for COVID-19 MORE (D-Mass.) in signing the petition.

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"The escalating thresholds over the past few months have unnecessarily and artificially narrowed what started as the strongest and most diverse Democratic field in history before voters have had a chance to be heard," the candidates said in the memo, which was obtained by The Hill.

"As a result, candidates who have proven both their viability and their commitment to the Democratic Party are being prematurely cut out of the nominating contest before many voters have even tuned in -- much less made their decision about whom to support."

Booker, who has languished in the low and middle tiers of the 2020 primary field and led the charge, failed to qualify for next week’s primary debate and has repeatedly pushed the DNC to ease its donor and polling thresholds.

To have qualified for the December debate, scheduled for Dec. 19, candidates had to amass the support of at least 200,000 unique donors and register at least 4 percent support in four qualifying polls or at least 6 percent support in two approved early voting state polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada or South Carolina. 

The qualifications for December’s debate winnowed the field, with only Biden, Warren, Sanders, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Steyer and Yang making the cut for the event, allowing for only one candidate of color. The field's diversity was further thrust into the spotlight after Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisThe U.S. and Mexico must revamp institutions supporting their joint efforts Harris signals a potential breakthrough in US-Mexico cooperation Watch live: Harris delivers remarks on vaccination efforts MORE, who is of Indian and Jamaican descent and the only other candidate of color to qualify for next week's stage, dropped out of the race.

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“While we know this was an unintended consequence of the DNC’s actions, many of the candidates excluded due to these thresholds are the ones who have helped make this year’s primary field historically diverse,” the candidates wrote in the memo. 

“Frankly, that unintended result does not live up to the values of our Democratic Party and it does not serve the best interest of Democratic voters, who deserve to hear from and be able to choose among the best our party has to offer,” they added.

The contenders proposed in the memo that the DNC return to rules it applied to earlier debates that allowed candidates to qualify for the event via either the donor or the polling thresholds rather than both. Such a move could expand the debate stage back to a double-digit number of candidates and would include Booker and Castro, as well as former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergPress: Even Jeff Bezos should pay income taxes What the Democrats should be doing to reach true bipartisanship 5 former Treasury secretaries back Biden's plan to increase tax enforcement on wealthy MORE and others.

"Adopting the aforementioned criteria will produce a debate stage that better reflects our party and our country; will recognize a broader definition of what constitutes a viable candidacy, particularly in the early primary and caucus states where strong organization can outweigh media persuasion efforts; and will reflect the practical reality that the polling threshold has proven to be an unreliable metric, with only four national debate qualifying polls released since the last debate," the candidates wrote."

"With the holiday season upon us, and a brief qualification window for the January debate, it’s vital to make modifications to qualification criteria now," they added. "If we are to beat Donald TrumpDonald TrumpHead of firms that pushed 'Italygate' theory falsely claimed VA mansion was her home: report Centrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting VA moving to cover gender affirmation surgery through department health care MORE next November, this must be our way forward."

The DNC defended its handling of the debates, maintaining that it has been transparent and made clear to all the candidates when the thresholds would be raised and by how much.

"The DNC will not change the threshold for any one candidate and will not revert back to two consecutive nights with more than a dozen candidates. Our qualification criteria is extremely low and reflects where we are in the race. Once voting starts in February, our criteria will reflect those contests, which is more than appropriate," the group said in a statement to The Hill

Updated at 9:02 p.m.