Democratic Party organizers have an enormous field of candidates to wrangle, and the ghosts of 2016 are haunting their every move.

Next month will mark three years since a Russian email hack humiliated and forced out then-Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz in the middle of a presidential election. Now, as the DNC seeks to find a nominee to challenge President Donald Trump, the party is again facing criticism as it attempts to referee the largest field of primary contenders in its history. Ahead of the DNC’s first 2020 presidential debates on June 26 and 27 in Miami, the campaign of Montana Governor Steve Bullock is accusing party officials of “a secret rule change” that could block him from the stage, while another governor, Jay Inslee of Washington, is condemning the committee for its refusal to hold a debate devoted to climate change. Other Democratic hopefuls are grumbling about debate qualification rules that, they say, are forcing them to spend money unwisely just to secure a crucial opportunity to make their case to voters.

Those complaints are likely to grow louder, at least from some quarters, over the next two days as the committee announces which 20 of the 23 official candidates will take the stage for the initial debates, which will be televised live on NBC, MSNBC, and Telemundo over the course of two consecutive nights for the first time.

“The DNC is damned if they do and damned if they don’t,” said a veteran Democratic strategist, who spoke anonymously to avoid alienating a committee that doles out substantial sums in consulting contracts.

This year, to qualify for the first primary debate under rules developed by the DNC, candidates must either reach 1 percent support in three separate national or early-state polls, or obtain contributions from at least 65,000 individual donors, with 200 each from at least 20 different states. If more than 20 candidates reach either threshold, those that achieve both will get an advantage in a tiebreaker. The DNC announced the rules in February in an effort to give campaigns plenty of time to prepare, but the long lead time has not stopped a backlash from building as candidates have realized they might be shut out of the first contests.

Two of the candidates struggling to secure their debate spots, Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado and former Representative John Delaney of Maryland, have …read more

Source:: The Atlantic – Best of

      

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Inside the DNC’s Two-Year Mission to Fix the Presidential Debates

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