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 Rubens BloombergWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Sanders most searched, most tweeted about candidate during Democratic debate Democrats duke it out in most negative debate so far 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 SandersWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Sanders most searched, most tweeted about candidate during Democratic debate MORE (I-Vt.), former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Sanders most searched, most tweeted about candidate during Democratic debate MORE, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Sanders most searched, most tweeted about candidate during Democratic debate MORE (D-Mass.), former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Sanders most searched, most tweeted about candidate during Democratic debate MORE, Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Sanders most searched, most tweeted about candidate during Democratic debate Democrats duke it out in most negative debate so far MORE (D-Minn.) and businessman Tom SteyerTom Fahr SteyerWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Sanders most searched, most tweeted about candidate during Democratic debate 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

“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 TrumpWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Democrats duke it out in most negative debate so far 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 YangThe Hill's Morning Report - Sanders steamrolls to South Carolina primary, Super Tuesday Yang calls on someone to 'pull an Andrew Yang' and bow out of 2020 race Yang criticizes caucus voting method, says they don't encourage high voter turnout MORE and Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardButtigieg notes diversity on debate stage: We're '7 white people talking about racial justice' Sanders grows lead in new Hill/HarrisX poll Financial trade tax gains traction with 2020 Democrats 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.