10 Democrats set for next de­bate as oth­ers miss cut

The Saline Courier - - NEWS - As­so­ci­ated Press

WASHINGTON — Strug­gling Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates are fac­ing the bad news that they are not among the 10 who have qual­i­fied for the next de­bate, a predica­ment that is likely to spell doom for their cam­paigns.

Hours ahead of a mid­night Wed­nes­day dead­line to qual­ify, New York Sen. Kirsten Gil­li­brand an­nounced she was drop­ping out of the race after spend­ing at least $4 mil­lion on ad­ver­tis­ing in re­cent months to qual­ify.

Bil­lion­aire cli­mate change ac­tivist Tom Steyer, Mon­tana Gov. Steve Bul­lock and self­help guru Mar­i­anne Wil­liamson were also among those miss­ing Septem­ber’s de­bate, as were Colorado Sen. Michael Ben­net, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gab­bard and a hand­ful of oth­ers.

To ap­pear on stage in Hous­ton next month, they had to hit 2% in at least four ap­proved public opin­ion polls while se­cur­ing 130,000 unique donors . Two new polls re­leased Wed­nes­day af­firmed that they were all below the thresh­old.

The ques­tion shifted from who would qual­ify for the fol­low­ing de­bate to who would stay in the race.

“Our rules have ended up less in­clu­sive ... than even the Repub­li­cans,” Bul­lock said on MSNBC, re­fer­ring to the thresh­olds set by the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee. “It is what it is.”

The 10 can­di­dates who qual­i­fied for Septem­ber’s de­bate are Joe Bi­den, Cory Booker, Pete But­tigieg, Julián Cas­tro, Ka­mala Har­ris, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’rourke, Bernie San­ders, El­iz­a­beth War­ren and An­drew Yang.

In a still-crowded

Demo­cratic field, not qual­i­fy­ing for the de­bate was ex­pected to se­verely crip­ple a can­di­date’s prospects. How­ever, sev­eral have pledged to forge on in hopes of reach­ing the re­quire­ments in time for the next de­bate, in Oc­to­ber.

Al­though ear­lier de­bates had lower thresh­olds, the DNC raised the stakes for the fall de­bates.

“We be­lieve you need to show progress in your cam­paign,” said Demo­cratic Party spokes­woman Xo­chitl Hi­no­josa. “There hasn’t been one can­di­date in 40 years who has polled un­der 2% the fall ahead of a pri­mary and has gone on to be the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee.”

The DNC de­signed the re­quire­ments to bring or­der to an un­wieldy field of more than 20 White House hope­fuls, while el­e­vat­ing the role of on­line grass­roots donors who are among the party’s most fer­vent sup­port­ers.

In some ways, the party has suc­ceeded. But the process has drawn com­plaints from those un­likely to make the cut. They ar­gue that the rules are ar­bi­trary and have forced can­di­dates to pour money into ex­pen­sive on­line fundrais­ing op­er­a­tions that can some­times charge as much as $90 for ev­ery dol­lar raised.

Ben­net said the thresh­old fa­vored Steyer, and a memo by his cam­paign ac­cused the bil­lion­aire of try­ing to buy his way into the de­bate. “Other can­di­dates have had to spend mil­lions to ac­quire donors on Face­book, in­stead (of) com­mu­ni­cat­ing with vot­ers and lay­ing the ground­work to beat” Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, the Ben­net cam­paign memo stated.

Steyer, a late en­try in the race, was the clos­est to qual­i­fy­ing but ac­knowl­edged Wed­nes­day night that he too had fallen short.

“While I’m dis­ap­pointed that I won’t be on the de­bate stage in Hous­ton this month, I’m ex­cited by all the sup­port you’ve shown us,” he tweeted to sup­port­ers. “We started this cam­paign to get cor­po­rate in­flu­ence out of pol­i­tics, and I won’t stop fight­ing un­til the gov­ern­ment be­longs to the peo­ple again.”

In a sep­a­rate let­ter to Demo­cratic Party Chair­man Tom Perez, Ben­net’s cam­paign asked how the DNC de­cided which polls to al­low and ques­tioned why Democrats were try­ing to nar­row the field months be­fore Iowa cau­cuses.

Yet Hi­no­josa, the DNC spokes­woman, said those who are up­set have had am­ple time to build sup­port and reach the thresh­olds. In­stead, most have con­sis­tently polled at 1% or below.

“We are ask­ing Demo­cratic can­di­dates to hit 2% in four polls. That is not a high thresh­old,” said Hi­no­josa, who added the DNC is ac­cept­ing the re­sults from 21 polls.

Steyer and Gil­li­brand both poured mil­lions of dol­lars into Face­book and TV ads to boost their stand­ing in re­cent months. While Steyer met the donor thresh­old, he was one poll shy. Gil­li­brand was three polls away and had yet to lock in enough donors.

Gab­bard was two polls away from qual­i­fy­ing, and Wil­liamson was three polls away.

Sev­eral oth­ers who strug­gled had al­ready cho­sen to drop out. Washington Gov.

Jay Inslee, Mas­sachusetts

Rep. Seth Moul­ton and former Colorado Gov. John Hick­en­looper all re­cently ended their cam­paigns.

With no more than 10 par­tic­i­pants, the Septem­ber de­bate would be the first of the cy­cle held on a sin­gle night. Ear­lier de­bates fea­tured 20 can­di­dates split across two nights.

Bi­den, the race’s early fron­trun­ner, said he would like the field to win­now even fur­ther.

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