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.

Cases: 609387

Reported Deaths: 7743
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1262491796
Ramsey52997910
Dakota47216475
Anoka43200465
Washington27664296
Stearns22659227
St. Louis18245319
Scott17686139
Wright16518153
Olmsted13503103
Sherburne1212396
Carver1073749
Clay829692
Rice8249111
Blue Earth769944
Crow Wing687999
Kandiyohi669885
Chisago626954
Otter Tail590087
Benton585198
Goodhue485574
Douglas477781
Mower477533
Winona463552
Itasca462768
Isanti445566
McLeod434261
Morrison427762
Beltrami410163
Nobles409850
Steele400719
Polk390772
Becker389157
Lyon365054
Carlton356958
Freeborn350734
Pine337323
Nicollet334045
Mille Lacs314856
Brown308640
Le Sueur299527
Cass288133
Todd288133
Meeker265444
Waseca240723
Martin236933
Roseau212221
Wabasha20833
Hubbard197741
Dodge18943
Renville183146
Redwood178141
Houston175416
Cottonwood168124
Wadena165023
Fillmore158910
Faribault156920
Chippewa154038
Pennington153820
Kanabec147828
Sibley147310
Aitkin139237
Watonwan13619
Rock129019
Jackson123112
Pipestone117126
Yellow Medicine115320
Pope11396
Murray107310
Swift107318
Koochiching96819
Stevens92611
Clearwater89217
Marshall88817
Lake84320
Wilkin83813
Lac qui Parle76122
Big Stone6094
Grant5958
Lincoln5863
Mahnomen5669
Norman5509
Kittson49122
Unassigned48193
Red Lake4037
Traverse3815
Lake of the Woods3474
Cook1740

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 374664

Reported Deaths: 6109
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58891646
Linn21448342
Scott20426250
Black Hawk16680319
Woodbury15319230
Johnson1473686
Dubuque13595213
Dallas1144099
Pottawattamie11307177
Story1082848
Warren592092
Clinton564393
Cerro Gordo562297
Webster538996
Sioux519174
Muscatine4920106
Marshall491479
Des Moines478275
Jasper452073
Wapello4366123
Buena Vista431040
Plymouth404982
Lee392658
Marion369177
Jones301257
Henry301037
Bremer292763
Carroll286252
Boone271234
Crawford270841
Benton262755
Washington259851
Dickinson250745
Mahaska232551
Jackson225842
Kossuth219166
Clay217327
Tama213372
Delaware211743
Winneshiek200636
Buchanan196734
Page195422
Cedar192923
Hardin191144
Wright189140
Fayette188243
Hamilton186851
Harrison181973
Clayton173057
Butler167835
Madison167719
Floyd164642
Mills163824
Cherokee161538
Lyon160941
Poweshiek159036
Allamakee155552
Hancock153134
Iowa148324
Winnebago145731
Calhoun143113
Cass140855
Grundy139333
Emmet136741
Jefferson134535
Sac132620
Shelby131838
Louisa130249
Union129535
Appanoose128049
Franklin127823
Mitchell127243
Chickasaw125717
Guthrie124532
Humboldt124526
Palo Alto114924
Montgomery106738
Howard105322
Clarke102424
Monroe100633
Keokuk99932
Ida92735
Adair89632
Davis86825
Pocahontas86822
Monona85931
Greene79111
Osceola79017
Lucas77423
Worth7568
Taylor67112
Decatur6629
Fremont64810
Ringgold56824
Van Buren56718
Wayne56323
Audubon52913
Adams3494
Unassigned90
Rochester
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 73°
Mason City
Partly Cloudy
70° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 70°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
70° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 70°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
66° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 66°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
70° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 70°
Heat Trend on Tap for Week Ahead
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

DREAMS COME TRUE

Image

TRIP OF A LIFETIME

Image

QUARRY HILL NATURE CENTER CAVE TOURS

Image

QUARRY NATURE CENTER CAVE TOURS

Image

Rochester Honkers bat boy wrapping up two years with the team

Image

The Curling Club of Rochester is at the Olmsted County Fair this year

Image

Motocross at Spring Creek National

Image

Larping group meets each Sunday

Image

Spring Creek Motocross

Image

Ryan's Evening Forecast (7/25/21)

Community Events