Since the Democratic National Committee (DNC) announced a plan to hold 12 primary debates, with 6 in 2019, and 6 in 2020, we’ve been watching closely for details on the first debate which is scheduled for June. Tom Perez, Chairman of the DNC, said this week that details for the first 2 debates, in June and July, will be announced shortly. In addition to the impending announcement, Perez also gave us some clues as to how the large field would be divided for a debate broadcast.

Report from the Washington Post:

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez says he’ll announce details of the first two presidential primary debates by the end of the week.

Perez says he plans to include a grassroots fundraising metric as part of the qualifying threshold.

He wants that to make the debate more inclusive than just using polling.

The first two debates are slated for June and July. They’ll be the first two of six debates in 2019, with at least six more to follow in 2020.

Perez reaffirmed Wednesday that he’d “draw lots” to assign candidates to the two stages rather than separate perceived leaders from a second tier as Republicans did in their large primary field during their 2016 nominating fight.

In 2016, the Republican National Committee divided up the field with a “top tier” and a “lower tier” of candidates into separate debate broadcasts on the same night. This created a situation where the early debate, featuring the “lower tier” candidates, was basically a sideshow and received much less attention and viewership.

In the interests of avoiding that situation. where candidates are relegated to a “no man’s land” in late afternoon broadcast time filled with candidates nobody’s watching, Perez says the DNC will “draw lots” to randomly assign candidates when dividing up the field. The Washington Post also noted, in a correction, that up to 16 slots would be allocated for the debates:

This story has been corrected to show that Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez did not definitively say that debates would have two stages with a total of 16 spots but rather offered that as a speculative example.

Perez noted that grassroots fundraising, rather than simply relying on polling, would be also be used to fill slots to ensure a fairer distribution of debate opportunities.

As we have done in years past, Election Central will maintain a thorough and complete debate schedule covering the Democratic primary debates and the General Election debates between the Democratic nominee and President Trump next year.

Once the DNC releases some details, we will have a full and complete write-up on the announcement. Stay tuned!