DNC drops donor requirement for debates, opening door for Bloomberg

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) on Friday eliminated a fundraising requirement to qualify for the February debate in Las Vegas, potentially paving the way for former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergBloomberg spending millions on Biden push in Texas, Ohio Texas and North Carolina: Democrats on the verge? The Hill's Campaign Report: 2020 spending wars | Biden looks to clean up oil comments | Debate ratings are in MORE to make the stage for the first time.

Under the new criteria, candidates can meet either a delegates threshold or a polling threshold to qualify for the Feb. 19 debate in Las Vegas, just three days before the Nevada caucuses.

Specifically, candidates must have been allocated at least one pledged delegate at the Iowa caucuses or the New Hampshire primary.


Candidates can also qualify by reaching 10 percent support in at least four national polls or surveys of South Carolina and Nevada released between Jan. 15 and Feb. 18.

Alternatively, a candidate can qualify for the debate by reaching 12 percent support in two sanctioned national or early-state surveys. 

Only six candidates qualified for the previous debate in Des Moines: Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersIntercept bureau chief says congressional progressives looking to become stronger force in 2021 Obama book excerpt: 'Hard to deny my overconfidence' during early health care discussions Americans have a choice: Socialized medicine or health care freedom MORE (I-Vt.), former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska Jeff Daniels narrates new Biden campaign ad for Michigan MORE, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOvernight Defense: Dems want hearing on DOD role on coronavirus vaccine | US and India sign data-sharing pact | American citizen kidnapped in Niger Conservative operatives Wohl, Burkman charged in Ohio over false robocalls Senate Democrats want hearing on Pentagon vaccine effort MORE (D-Mass.), former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegConservative operatives Wohl, Burkman charged in Ohio over false robocalls LGBTQ voters must show up at the polls, or risk losing progress Buttigieg says it's time to 'turn the page' on Trump administration MORE, Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharStart focusing on veterans' health before they enlist Durbin says he will run for No. 2 spot if Dems win Senate majority Democrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein MORE (D-Minn.) and businessman Tom SteyerTom SteyerTrump leads Biden in Texas by 4 points: poll Democrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein 2020 election already most expensive ever MORE.

Bloomberg has been self-funding his campaign and has failed to reach the fundraising thresholds for previous debates. 

But now with fundraising barrier removed, Bloomberg might join Democrats on stage for the first time.


“We are thrilled that voters could soon have the chance to see Mike Bloomberg on the debate stage, hear his vision for the country, and see why he is the strongest candidate to defeat Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska NYT: Trump had 7 million in debt mostly tied to Chicago project forgiven MORE and bring our country together," Bloomberg campaign manager Kevin Sheekey said in a statement.

“Mike has run for office three times and never taken a dime from special interests, allowing him to act independently, on the merits, without having to do what donors expect. He is proud to be doing the same with this campaign,” Sheekey added.

The former New York City mayor’s strategy of blanketing the airwaves with hundreds of millions of dollars has boosted him into double-digits in some recent national surveys, even though he's not running in any of the early-voting states and is therefore unlikely to accumulate any delegates in Iowa or New Hampshire. 

However, the higher polling thresholds could make it very difficult for several candidates going forward, unless they build momentum after the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary. 

Businessman Andrew YangAndrew YangPelosi spars with CNN's Blitzer over COVID-19 aid: 'You really don't know what you're talking about' The shape of guaranteed income Biden's latest small business outreach is just ... awful MORE and Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardHarris faces biggest moment in spotlight yet Ocasio-Cortez slams Tulsi Gabbard for amplifying ballot harvesting video Republicans call on DOJ to investigate Netflix over 'Cuties' film MORE (D-Hawaii) both failed to meet the polling requirements for the debate in Iowa last month.

The DNC's next debate is set for Friday in New Hampshire. Seven candidates are set to take part in that debate: Biden, Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Steyer and Yang.

Updated at 3:46 p.m.