Dec 15, 2019

2020 frontrunners back Cory Booker's call to ease DNC debate rules

Sen. Cory Booker speaks during the Oct. 15 Democratic Presidential Debate in Westerville, Ohio. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Eight candidates joined 2020 rival Sen. Cory Booker in signing a letter sent to the Democratic National Committee Saturday that calls on the DNC to ease qualification requirements for presidential debates, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The DNC raised the qualification criteria in September for 2020 debates in a bid to whittle down the crowded field. The letter states the overhaul has "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," per NBC News.

The big picture: NBC notes the letter is signed by all seven candidates who've qualified for Thursday's Los Angeles debate: former Vice President Joe Biden; Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar; entrepreneur Andrew Yang and billionaire Tom Steyer.

  • Former Housing secretary Julián Castro, who did not qualify for the debate, also signed the letter.

What they're saying: Axios has contacted the DNC for comment. The committee told Politico, "The DNC has led a fair and transparent process and even told campaigns almost a year ago that the qualification criteria would go up later in the year — not one campaign objected."

"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.
"We’re proud to have given candidates so many opportunities to get their message across, and will continue to have fair criteria that reflects each point in the race."
— DNC statement to Politico

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DNC chair: "Everything that we have done has been completely fair"

Tom Perez. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images.

Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez told the New York Times that while he hears 2020 candidates' frustrations over the qualification criteria for primary debates, he believes everything the committee has done has been "completely fair and transparent."

Driving the news: Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who failed to qualify for the December debate, circulated a letter over the weekend urging the DNC to lower its debate qualifications for the January and February debates. Nine candidates have signed the letter, including the seven who qualified to appear on stage Thursday.

Go deeperArrowDec 15, 2019

DNC rejects Andrew Yang's request to commission more polls ahead of debate deadline

Andrew Yang. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Democratic National Committee has rejected 2020 candidate Andrew Yang's request to commission more early-state polls in order to help a more "diverse set of candidates" qualify for the next debate in Iowa, arguing that doing so could appear partial to particular candidates, The Hill reports.

The big picture: Four candidates of color remain in the Democratic primary, but all five candidates who have qualified for the Jan. 14 debate are white. Eight candidates signed on to a request by Sen. Cory Booker earlier this month for the DNC to ease qualification requirements for the debate stage.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Dec 30, 2019

Tom Steyer qualifies for January debate

Tom Steyer. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Six candidates have qualified for the seventh Democratic debate, scheduled for Jan. 14, newly including billionaire Tom Steyer as of Thursday.

What's new: Steyer qualified for the debate after an apparent spike in early state polls in South Carolina and Nevada. He tied alongside Sen. Elizabeth Warren for third place in Nevada, with both candidates hitting 12%. In South Carolina, Steyer landed in second place at 15%, but widely trailed behind former Vice President Joe Biden, who led the poll at 36%.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Jan 9, 2020