Dec 15, 2019

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.

  • 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

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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.

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

DNC to reschedule January debate if it conflicts with impeachment trial

Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez said the party will reschedule its Jan. 14 debate if it conflicts with President Trump's Senate impeachment trial, Politico reports.

Why it matters: Three 2020 candidates who have qualified for the debate in Des Moines, Iowa are senators, and will serve as jurors in the upcoming trial: Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Go deeperArrowJan 7, 2020