In a move that has drawn criticism from other candidates in the race, the Democratic National Committee has reportedly dropped the donor requirements from the Nevada Democratic debate set for Feb. 19. This part of the rule book seemed to be the only limit keeping former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg off the debate stage since he was already meeting requirements for polling support.
As CNN reports, the DNC had been reluctant to change any rules back in December, when some prominent candidates like Sen. Cory Booker were being knocked off the stage due to arbitrary polling thresholds, but not anymore:
The Democratic National Committee announced Friday that there will be no donor threshold for its upcoming Nevada debate, opening the door for former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to qualify for his first contest.
The new rules reflect the changing landscape in the Democratic primary and focus more on support in polls and in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two nominating states.
In order to qualify for the February 19 debate, a candidate either needs: 10% in four qualifying national, Nevada or South Carolina polls; or 12% in two qualifying polls from Nevada or South Carolina.
A candidate is also able to qualify if they receive a single delegate from either the Iowa caucuses or the New Hampshire primary.
The donor threshold, which previously required candidates to receives donations from a certain number of people, HAS 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 decision, they say, is based on the fact that voting has now started (sort of), so there’s no need for more artificial rules to govern the debate stage. The end result, however, of appearing to help the wealthy white businessman over other candidates in the field, isn’t going to sit well with some voters.
Andrew Yang sharply criticized the rule change saying the DNC made the alteration merely to benefit Bloomberg at this point in the race:
Andrew Yang on Sunday called the Democratic National Committee‘s overhaul of debate criteria “tailor-made” for 2020 competitor Michael Bloomberg — but he’s not sure the billionaire will welcome the changes.
“The fact is, Mike Bloomberg could have gotten himself on the debate stage any time he wanted,” Yang said on ABC’s “This Week.” “It’s pretty straightforward to meet the donor requirement. He could have just made that happen through online spending.
“I’m not sure that this is a development that he’s going to welcome, frankly. I think the DNC looked at this and said, ‘We need to get Bloomberg on the debate stage.’ This change is clearly tailor-made to deliver him to the debate stage,” Yang added.
Just days ago, we pointed out that some progressive groups were getting antsy about Bloomberg’s meteoric rise in the polls despite not soliciting individual donations or competing in the early primary and caucus states. One of the reasons, they believe, that Bloomberg is doing well without the debate stage is because he’s not being challenged on some of his prior political experience or positions. Instead, Bloomberg has been able to craft an image nationally for himself based on spending millions of dollars out of his personal fortune on advertising.
As amazing as it could be, despite the voting now underway, the debate stage could once again grow in size rather than shrink, as would be customary if candidates drop out. This year, however, candidates like Bloomberg are focused solely on Super Tuesday, March 3, so the likelihood that anyone drops before then remains rather slim.