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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.

  • Booker has sought to bring attention to the fact that the December stage — with the exception of entrepreneur Andrew Yang — will be entirely white. Booker and former governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick are the only two black candidates left in the race, following Sen. Kamala Harris' (D-Calif.) exit earlier this month.
  • The letter requests that the DNC use either polling or fundraising thresholds as a debate qualification. Both are currently required, with December's thresholds set at 200,000 individual donors and 4% support in four qualifying national polls, or 6% support in two early-state polls.
  • Perez has already decided the January debate will continue to require both thresholds and reiterated that decision to the Times: "I’m a huge fan of Cory Booker. I think the world of him. ... And if voters are disappointed that he hasn’t qualified, then when they answer the phone, they need to express their preference for Cory Booker.”

The push for lower qualifications also comes the same week as a coordinated effort from all seven Democrats to boycott the December debate if an ongoing union dispute at the venue, Loyola Marymount University, is not resolved.

  • Perez, who beat out now-candidate Pete Buttigieg in the 2017 race to become DNC chair, told the Times he does not intend to serve for long in the thankless role: "I will be a one-term DNC chair. Ask my wife."

Go deeper: DNC announces next four Democratic debates

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

NRA declares bankruptcy, says it will reincorporate in Texas

Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association (NRA) speaks during CPAC in 2016. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The National Rifle Association said Friday it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will seek to reincorporate in Texas, calling New York, where it is currently registered, a "toxic political environment."

The big picture: The move comes just months after New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit to dissolve the NRA, alleging the group committed fraud by diverting roughly $64 million in charitable donations over three years to support reckless spending by its executives.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden: "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution

Joe Biden. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden promised to invoke the Defense Production Act to increase vaccine manufacturing, as he outlined a five-point plan to administer 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations in the first months of his presidency.

Why it matters: With the Center for Disease Control and Prevention warning of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus, Biden is trying to establish how he’ll approach the pandemic differently than President Trump.