A handful of Democrats believe that the Democratic National Committee’s decision to tighten debate requirements will create blowback for black people and help the party’s “white male gatekeepers.”
“The DNC’s new rules, coming so early in the cycle, will amplify the harm done to diverse candidates by a political elite — from pollsters to talking heads — dominated by white male gatekeepers,” Sayu Bhojwani, founder of the nonpartisan political organization New American Leaders, said in a statement Thursday. She was not alone in her assessment.
“It fatigues donors, has a disparate impact on candidates with diverse supporters, and rewards institutional advantages like email lists, staff and campaign accounts,” one Democratic operative told Axios Thursday. The drama comes as the DNC announced Wednesday that it is doubling the requirements necessary to enter the debate stage in September.
Eleven candidates have qualified through polling and donations requirements, but the DNC won’t announce who has officially made the first debate stage until June. There are roughly 24 Democrats running in 2020, raising the specter that such a high number could never be sustained throughout the debate process.
DNC Chairman Tom Perez is reportedly creating a lottery system to determine which Democratic candidates stand on stage during the party’s initial two-day debate. He told The Hill in a May 24 interview that the party has not determined the methodology of the random draw.
“We wanted to make sure we didn’t have our thumb on the scale,” said Perez, who previously served as an attorney inside the Obama administration. The current math makes it easier for low-tier candidates to get a foothold in the process.
Qualified candidates must earn at least 1% of the vote in three national or designated early primary state polls to be offered a spot in the debates, or receive donations from 65,000 unique donors in 20 or more states. Roughly 12 candidates have reached both benchmarks, media reports show. There have been surprises.
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