The September debate stage is getting a little larger with 10 candidates now qualified for a podium spot. Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro crossed the threshold this week receiving a fourth poll giving him at least two percent support among Democratic primary voters. Castro follows Andrew Yang who also made the cut just days ago.
Politico reports on the progress for Castro which is big news for his candidacy since he desperately needed to make it to the September debate to have any hope of continuing a campaign into the fall:
Castro received 2 percent in a CNN/SSRS national poll released Tuesday. To qualify for the debates, candidates must get at least 2 percent in four polls approved by the Democratic National Committee and donations from 130,000 unique donors. Castro had already gotten 2 percent in three polls, and his campaign said he has already hit the donor mark.
Castro is the 10th candidate to qualify for the two fall debates, joining Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang on stage.
Here’s where the September debate stage sits as of today, with Castro now included:
|Num||Candidate||Polls AND Donors||Donors Only|
|14||Bill de Blasio|
Here is where things get a little more controversial for the September debate. With 10 candidates now qualified, en eleventh candidate would send the debate into a split over two nights on September 12 and 13. The quandary for the campaigns and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is that the eleventh candidate, at this point, seems most likely to be billionaire donor and Democratic activist Tom Steyer.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has accused Steyer of buying a debate spot, according to NBC:
“Tom Steyer spent nearly $10 million to buy his way onto the debate stage,” Bullock tweeted. “But no matter what the @DNC says, money doesn’t vote. People do.”
Bullock then released an extended statement on Steyer, whose campaign announced earlier Tuesday that he had hit the 130,000 donor requirement and was just one qualifying poll away from being assured a spot on the Sept. 12-13 debate stage in Houston.
Bullock has practically no chance of meeting the September or October debate thresholds so his campaign is likely headed to end at some point. However, that won’t stop Bullock, and others, from taking shots at Steyer and taking shots at the rules as devised by the DNC which make it easier for a self-funded billionaire to get a debate spot than a sitting Democratic Governor.
As with every election year, there are always candidates unhappy with the criteria established to select candidates for televised debates. If Steyer does make it to the September stage, which also qualifies him automatically for October, look for more outcry from other candidates who have worked harder and longer than Steyer but are being left off stage due to the DNC threshold rules.