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 Bloomberg 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 Sanders (I-Vt.), former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and businessman Tom Steyer.
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 Trump 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 Yang and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (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.