The Democratic National Committee is prepared to smush 20 candidates onto two stages for each of its 12 primary debates. One problem: Its 21st candidate just joined the race.
With Sen. Michael Bennet's (D-Co.) 2020 announcement on Thursday, the possibility now stands that too many Democrats will meet the DNC's requirements by the time the first debate rolls around in June. It also raises the question of whether the DNC's debate qualifications remain too attainable to push out improbable candidates — not that the committee has said it'll change them, The New York Times reports.
Of those already in the race, only 17 have qualified by either getting 65,000 donors, with at least 200 donors each coming from 20 individual states, or by polling at 1 percent in three polls on a predetermined list. Nine candidates — including seemingly long-shot contenders Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang — have hit both thresholds. Only four have yet to qualify, and they have nearly two months to do so. And let's not forget the few Democrats still teasing a run.
That poses a problem for the DNC's cap and qualifications, seeing as a committee spokesperson told the Times they wouldn't be changed now. Instead, the DNC has set up some tiebreakers. Debaters will be determined first if they meet both the donor and polling limits, then by their highest polling average, and then by most unique donors.
That's probably why Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) started pushing Thursday to meet a second debate threshold, tweeting that he has around 63,000 individual donors and asking for "less than 2,000" more. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Julián Castro also specifically cited the individual donor threshold in tweets earlier this week.