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The DNC Reverses Debate Rules For Michael Bloombeg, But Not For People of Color


The stage is empty before the fourth Democratic primary debate.

As if there aren’t enough entitled white guys yelling “DEBATE ME” on the internet, one just successfully used his riches and influence to bully the Democratic National Committee into allowing him on the debate stage.

In a drastic departure from their previous requirements that candidates show that they meet a certain threshold number of grassroots donors to qualify to participate in a debate, the DNC has changed the rules for an upcoming debate in Nevada next month. The new rules for the February 19th debate (there is an additional debate on February 7th) say that candidates must either win a single delegate in Iowa or New Hampshire or must meet a polling minimum. This is good news for Billionaire Michael Bloomberg only.

This move comes after Cory Booker and Julian Castro were essentially forced out of the race because they could not meet the DNC’s old requirements regarding polling but did have enough supporters. Booker and Castro even sent a letter to the DNC, signed by every candidate who was in the January debate  (Biden, Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Yang, and Steyer) which decried the DNC for reducing the debate stage to one that did not accurately reflect the country.

Now, as Bloomberg—who is not even on the ballot in many early voting states like Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada—spends millions of his own money and slowly climbs in the national polls, he seems poised to make sure billionaires continue to be represented on the DNC debate stage long after every person of color has been swept from the field.

The new qualification requires a candidate to show four qualifying national polls where they register at least 10% support or two polls in Nevada or South Carolina with 12% support. So far, Bloomberg has collected one national poll that shows him above 10% support. He has until February 18th to get two more.

Following the Iowa Caucuses, the democratic field is bound to thin anyway. In terms of polling, only Biden, Sanders and Warren have currently qualified for the February debate and it seems unlikely that the days of low-polling challengers like Tom Steyer, Andrew Yang, Tulsi Gabbard (who didn’t make the January debate) and even Amy Klochuar are numbered. Do we really need Mike Bloomberg buying his way into the conversation as the field focuses? Another white face as men and women of color like Kamala Harris and yes, even Yang and Gabbard, are lost?

It’s very depressing to see the DNC drop the donor requirement and open up the possibility that someone like Bloomberg, who owns a news empire, can just spend millions of dollars and get in, while candidates who have worked and organized and inspired people are shut out.

Hopefully, Bloomberg will get a reality check when he’s actually on a ballot.

(via: The New York Times)

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Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.