Democrats change debate rules, benefiting billionaire Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg
Michael Bloomberg

Rule that kept other candidates off the state now being dropped.

Posted: Jan 31, 2020 7:28 PM

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Democratic National Committee has dropped grassroots fundraising qualifications for the party’s Feb. 19 debate before the Nevada caucuses, opening the possibility that billionaire Michael Bloomberg could make his first appearance on stage.

The party announced Friday three different ways for candidates to reach the debate stage that involve reaching certain polling thresholds or banking a convention delegate in the first two nominating contests held in Iowa and New Hampshire. All previous debates have included a fundraising element, and since September, candidates have had to reach both polling thresholds and grassroots fundraising marks. Bloomberg, a former New York City mayor, has not yet hit the polling marks, but he will have until Feb. 18, the day before the debate, to do so — a prospect that pleases some rivals and incenses others.

Under the DNC rules, candidates have multiple paths to the stage: reach 10% support in some combination of four national polls or early state polls from Nevada or South Carolina; reach 12% support in two polls from Nevada or South Carolina or both; or bank a convention delegate in Iowa or New Hampshire, which host the first two nominating votes in early February.

Party Chairman Tom Perez and his aides have said for months that the DNC would likely shift to qualifying standards based on actual results once voting began. But the move is nonetheless significant given Bloomberg’s unique presence in the race.

The ultrabillionaire is self-funding his White House bid — spending at least $188 million from the time he entered the race on Nov. 24 until the end of the year, according to disclosures filed Friday — and thus never could have qualified had Perez continued to require debate participants to reach a certain number of donors.

The Bloomberg campaign praised the DNC's decision to change the debate rules.

“We are thrilled that voters could soon have the chance to see Mike Bloomberg on the debate stage, hear his vision for the country, and see why he is the strongest candidate to defeat Donald Trump and bring our country together," campaign manager Kevin Sheekey said in a statement.

Bloomberg underscored recently that he had no intention of accepting contributions, even from small-dollar donors. “I don't even want the appearance of impropriety, and I hope party leaders change the rules," he said while campaigning in Texas, but "if they don't, so what? ... I'm going to take my message directly to the voters."

Rival campaigns have complained for weeks that Bloomberg has been avoiding scrutiny as he spreads his personal fortune across Super Tuesday states, part of his unusual campaign that is skipping the first four states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. Bloomberg donated more than $100,000 to the DNC just days before he entered the race; candidates typically make such contributions to get access to the party's national voter database.

But how to treat him on the debate stage is a tricky proposition for the campaigns. Some candidates have argued he should be subjected to the same questioning they've endured for months, yet rival campaigns also are wary about validating Bloomberg as a legitimate threat. And they already privately acknowledge that his personal fortune makes him a variable they must consider, regardless of the debates, as they try to amass the nearly 2,000 delegates that will be necessary to win the nomination.

Relaxing rules that govern debates almost certainly will leave some former candidates unhappy. Julián Castro and Cory Booker, in particular, have complained that the DNC's rules unfairly targeted minority candidates because even grassroots donor bases are whiter than the Democratic electorate.

In response to the rules change, Booker's former campaign manager Addisu Demissie sent out a tweet with a GIF of Justin Timberlake looking incredulous. Asked for additional comment, Demissie pointed back to the tweet.

Jeff Weaver, a senior adviser for Bernie Sanders, said it would be “wrong” to change rules that would "accommodate Mayor Bloomberg, who has raised no grassroots donations and is instead flooding the airwaves across the country funded by his billions of dollars of personal assets.”

“Now, at this late hour, to change the rules to accommodate a billionaire who wants to buy his way into the party would be unconscionable," Weaver said. “No one should be allowed to buy their way onto the debate stage or the nomination.”

Echoing the Sanders team, Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren said there shouldn't be a separate set of rules for billionaires.

“The DNC didn’t change the rules to ensure good, diverse candidates could remain on the debate stage. They shouldn’t change the rules to let a billionaire on,” Warren tweeted.

Other Democrats have encouraged the DNC to allow Bloomberg's participation.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said this week that she'd be “fine" with Bloomberg being on the debate stage.

“I think that instead of just putting your money out there, he's actually got to be on the stage and be able to go back-and-forth so voters can evaluate him in that way," she said on MSNBC.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 60898

Reported Deaths: 1698
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin19271835
Ramsey7572265
Dakota4414106
Anoka3683114
Stearns289320
Washington212845
Nobles17646
Olmsted173223
Scott155919
Mower11012
Rice10328
Blue Earth9185
Wright8845
Carver8613
Clay78440
Sherburne7238
Kandiyohi6961
St. Louis55319
Todd4262
Lyon4253
Freeborn3591
Steele3482
Nicollet33713
Benton3203
Watonwan3080
Winona26116
Beltrami2400
Crow Wing23514
Le Sueur2201
Martin2075
Chisago2011
Goodhue1969
Otter Tail1943
McLeod1810
Cottonwood1780
Becker1571
Pipestone1579
Polk1534
Waseca1480
Itasca14712
Douglas1441
Carlton1370
Unassigned13441
Pine1290
Dodge1270
Isanti1250
Murray1221
Chippewa1041
Morrison921
Wabasha920
Brown892
Faribault870
Jackson860
Meeker852
Rock850
Sibley832
Koochiching773
Pennington751
Cass722
Mille Lacs713
Renville645
Fillmore630
Lincoln580
Grant553
Swift531
Roseau520
Yellow Medicine520
Pope480
Houston420
Aitkin401
Norman400
Kanabec361
Redwood360
Wilkin343
Hubbard330
Marshall290
Mahnomen271
Wadena270
Red Lake240
Big Stone220
Lake210
Stevens180
Clearwater140
Traverse110
Lac qui Parle70
Cook50
Kittson30
Lake of the Woods20

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 48781

Reported Deaths: 929
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk10309207
Woodbury371952
Black Hawk312766
Linn237588
Johnson209619
Dallas188535
Buena Vista179412
Scott171814
Dubuque167631
Marshall144426
Pottawattamie132526
Story116614
Wapello90033
Muscatine84748
Webster8017
Crawford7283
Sioux6343
Cerro Gordo62517
Warren5641
Tama55129
Jasper47826
Wright4721
Plymouth4629
Clinton3973
Dickinson3814
Louisa37814
Washington29810
Boone2583
Hamilton2461
Franklin24110
Bremer2267
Clarke2013
Carroll1921
Emmet1924
Clay1901
Shelby1841
Hardin1810
Des Moines1792
Marion1730
Poweshiek1598
Benton1561
Jackson1561
Allamakee1554
Floyd1552
Mahaska13917
Cedar1331
Guthrie1325
Jones1302
Buchanan1271
Henry1254
Hancock1222
Butler1212
Madison1212
Pocahontas1152
Lee1143
Lyon1132
Delaware1121
Humboldt1111
Cherokee1081
Harrison1071
Clayton1043
Taylor980
Iowa971
Winneshiek971
Page940
Kossuth910
Monona910
Mills890
Sac850
Jefferson840
Palo Alto840
Winnebago840
Calhoun832
Osceola830
Fayette820
Grundy791
Mitchell780
Union771
Cass741
Monroe737
Lucas684
Worth660
Montgomery594
Davis572
Chickasaw540
Appanoose493
Howard490
Fremont420
Greene410
Van Buren371
Keokuk351
Adair300
Ida290
Audubon281
Decatur230
Ringgold221
Wayne191
Adams160
Unassigned60
Rochester
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 54°
Mason City
Clear
53° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 53°
Albert Lea
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 63°
Austin
55° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 55°
Charles City
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 55°
Clouds clear tonight, tracking sunshine for Tuesday!
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Car crashes into Mason City home

Image

Dangerous week for cyclists

Image

Sara's 10pm Forecast - Monday

Image

Iowa fall practices begin Monday

Image

How you can raise funds with a local tech companies app

Image

Sara's 6pm Forecast - Monday

Image

Saving A Historic Church

Image

Rochester International Airport announces new service

Image

Primary Election Day is Tomorrow

Image

Clocktower becoming permanent in Rochester

Community Events