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Perez Reiterates the Democratic Debate Rules Now That Billionaires Are in the Race

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File

Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Tom Perez on Saturday told CNN's John Berman that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg might not have a spot on the Democratic debate stage in December if he completely self-funds his campaign. 


Although the next Democratic debate is scheduled for later this month, it's too late for Bloomberg to qualify. But if he wants to make an appearance in November, he must meet the same thresholds as the 2020 Democratic contenders.


To participate, candidates must either receive at least 4 percent support in four qualifying polls of primary voters nationally or in early-voting states (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada or South Carolina); or they must receive at least 6 percent support in two qualifying early-state polls.

Candidates must also amass donations from at least 200,000 unique donors, with a minimum of 800 donors in 20 states, territories or Washington, D.C.

Even if Bloomberg is able to meet the polling requirements, he could still be excluded from the debate if he doesn't meet the donor requirements.

"The way you have the primary debates set up is that there is a donor threshold. You have to receive donations from a certain number of people in the country to get on the debate stage," Berman said. "If Michael Bloomberg self-funds, if he doesn’t bother raising money — because he doesn’t need to — from 200,000 or 300,000 people to get individual donations, how would he get on the debate stage?"


"Those are our rules. Those are the rules we set, and we didn’t make any exceptions to those rules, and I don’t have any intention for the November and December debates," Perez said rather bluntly. "We haven’t set the rules past December, but we’ve articulated the rules up to and including December, and they include a grassroots fund-raising threshold. Every candidate will have to meet that."

Perez reminded the audience that billionaire Tom Steyer also started out later than other candidates and "he has complied," which leads the DNC chairman to believe Bloomberg would also comply. 

"So even if he’s at 10 percent in the polls across the board, he’s not going to debate in December unless he meets that donor threshold?" Berman asked.

"That’s correct."


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