There are two separate criteria a candidate must meet in order to participate in upcoming Democratic primary debates. One requires candidates to meet a certain threshold in recent polls. The current threshold is ten percent. The other criteria is that the candidate must have a certain number of individual donors to his campaign. The latter was a threshold that Mike Bloomberg’s self-funded campaign could never meet. But today the DNC has revised the criteria and eliminated the donor threshold.
The donor threshold, which previously required candidates to receives donations from a certain number of people, have been dropped.
Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for the DNC, said the committee opted to end the donor threshold because now that “grassroots support is actually captured in real voting, the criteria will no longer require a donor threshold.”
“The donor threshold was appropriate for the opening stages of the race, when candidates were building their organizations and there were no metrics available outside of polling to distinguish those making progress from those who weren’t,” Watson said.
The Bloomberg campaign is thrilled:
“We are thrilled that voters could soon have the chance to see Mike Bloomberg on the debate stage, hear his vision for the country, and see why he is the strongest candidate to defeat Donald Trump and bring our country together,” said Kevin Sheekey, Bloomberg’s campaign manager.
But a spokesman for the Sanders campaign expressed disappointment with the DNC’s decision:
“To now change the rules in the middle of the game to accommodate Mike Bloomberg, who is trying to buy his way into the Democratic nomination, is wrong,” Jeff Weaver, a senior adviser to Sanders, told POLITICO as the rules were being announced…
“Now, suddenly because Mr. Bloomberg couldn’t satisfy one of the prongs, we see it get changed?” Weaver said. “That’s the definition of a rigged system where the rich can buy their way in.”
A spokesman for Andrew Yang also called the change a mistake:
Tom Steyer called the decision “just plain wrong.”
Let’s make one thing clear: @TheDemocrats decision to change the rules now to accommodate Mike Bloomberg and not changing them in the past to ensure a more diverse debate stage is just plain wrong.https://t.co/BoCVpahWpx
— Tom Steyer (@TomSteyer) January 31, 2020
Plenty of other progressives seem upset about the change:
It’s utterly ridiculous that Dem candidates have been working hard for months to qualify for debates, some even being excluded when they do… then @DNC changes rules to allow ##BillionaireBloomberg to be on debate stage despite not even trying to qualify. What a joke! #NotMeUs https://t.co/0JakDcOclH
— Ash Kalra 🌱 (@Ash_Kalra) January 31, 2020
Quite a few people pointing out that the DNC had previously been firm about not changing the rules, but suddenly it seems they are flexible.
If you look at the new DNC debate thresholds as anything other than "Get Andrew Yang off stage and put Mike Bloomberg on," Then you are high.
— Brad Bauman (@bradbaumn) January 31, 2020
How is Bloomberg getting this special treatment you ask? The same way he’s getting a national campaign. He’s buying it.
— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) January 31, 2020
Here’s an alternate theory about why the DNC is changing the rules now:
Make no mistake about it: the @DNC changing its debates rules to open the door for @MikeBloomberg is Dem elite waving white flag on @JoeBiden. They see the writing on the wall and are now moving beyond hedging their bets to propping up Bloomberg https://t.co/OdzXn6KTUj
— Jordan (@JordanChariton) January 31, 2020
With Bernie surging past Biden in some national polls, maybe the moderates really are getting nervous. And by the way, they should be nervous because there are plenty of reasons to think nominating Sanders would set up a train wreck in November.