Democrats to start presidential primary debates in June 2019

Democrats will hold at least a dozen presidential primary debates starting in June 2019 and running through April 2020.

Posted: Dec 20, 2018 11:35 AM

Democrats will hold at least a dozen presidential primary debates starting in June 2019 and running through April 2020, with party Chairman Tom Perez promising rules that will give everyone in a potentially large field a fair shot at voters' attention.

Making public his first in a series of decisions over the 2020 debate calendar, Perez said Thursday that the national party will sponsor six debates in 2019 and six more in 2020. That could be extended if the nomination process drags deep into the spring.

Exact dates, locations, media partners and qualifying thresholds will be announced in early 2019. But Perez says early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina won't host debates until 2020.

The first two debates in June and July will have two rounds, possibly over two nights, to accommodate what is expected to be an unwieldy field. Candidates will be assigned at random, Perez said, to avoid the party picking and choosing who is a top-tier contender, as Republicans did during their 2016 primary debates.

"Democrats want to put our eventual nominee in the strongest position possible to defeat Donald Trump," Perez said.

He added that party officials have "listened to voices across our party about how we can make the primary process better" and set rules that "will help every candidate feel like they got a fair shake."

Perez's announcement Thursday comes after months of discussions among party officials, television network and previous presidential campaigns. Mary Beth Cahill, who ran John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign, has led the process for Perez.

From the outset, Perez and Cahill stated a determination to avoid charges of favoritism that dogged Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016, in part because of the debate schedule established by then-Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.

In the last election cycle, Wasserman Schultz did not commit to an initial six debates until May 2015; the first debate wasn't held until that October. Democrats had a total of nine debates in that primary fight, not counting additional forums.

Perez also has used Republicans' 2016 experience as a guide. Then GOP-Chairman Reince Priebus sanctioned 12 debates for a field of 18 candidates, beginning in August. Some early debates featured two stages on the same night, but the GOP divided the field into essentially a varsity lineup and a junior varsity lineup of longshots.

"Drawing lots strikes me as the fairest way to ensure everyone gets a fair shake," Perez said.

Perez committed to using qualifying thresholds beyond polling for at least the June and July debates. As an example, he cited grassroots fundraising. Party officials involved in debate discussions have also mentioned metrics such as the number of field offices in the early voting states.

Top Democrats also said that the two-stage approach and expansive qualifying thresholds could conceivably be extended to later debates if the field remains too large for one stage.

Perez did not say precisely how many candidates he believes is too large for one stage, though he referred to "a double-digit field" when discussing the June and July sessions. Details of the debates ultimately must be hammered out with the co-sponsoring television networks that pay for the events, but Perez and other Democratic officials have said the networks appear amenable to the party's ideas.

The party will not bar candidates from participating in other forums, Perez said, referring to events that may feature multiple candidates but not having them on stage at the same time to interact with each other.

Perez said that while the traditional first four states will not host debates in 2019, he would not restrict early debates being held in states, such as California, that are holding March primaries with mail ballots going out even as Iowans are gathering for the first caucus.

___

Follow Bill Barrow on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BillBarrowAP .

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Reported Deaths: 1654
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Hennepin17789819
Ramsey6861261
Dakota3942102
Anoka3327112
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Washington188643
Nobles17456
Olmsted162023
Scott136214
Mower10782
Rice9898
Blue Earth8485
Wright8015
Carver7692
Clay74340
Kandiyohi6701
Sherburne6387
St. Louis42719
Todd4182
Lyon4153
Freeborn3541
Steele3271
Nicollet30713
Benton3043
Watonwan2980
Winona24516
Crow Wing20613
Martin2035
Le Sueur1991
Beltrami1910
Chisago1761
Goodhue1758
Otter Tail1753
Cottonwood1710
Pipestone1439
Becker1421
McLeod1350
Unassigned13540
Douglas1290
Itasca12912
Polk1293
Waseca1280
Pine1260
Carlton1240
Dodge1220
Murray1221
Isanti1080
Chippewa971
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Houston400
Pope390
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Redwood300
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Kanabec281
Marshall280
Wilkin283
Mahnomen231
Wadena230
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Red Lake190
Lake170
Stevens150
Clearwater140
Traverse100
Lac qui Parle60
Kittson40
Cook20
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Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 45592

Reported Deaths: 877
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk9709202
Woodbury364250
Black Hawk299762
Linn208987
Johnson191815
Dallas178735
Buena Vista178412
Scott159012
Dubuque152729
Marshall138324
Pottawattamie121223
Story111013
Wapello84531
Muscatine82448
Crawford7153
Webster7125
Sioux5932
Cerro Gordo58117
Tama53729
Warren5261
Jasper45424
Plymouth4438
Wright4411
Louisa37814
Dickinson3754
Clinton3123
Washington28710
Hamilton2391
Boone2282
Franklin2134
Bremer1877
Clarke1853
Carroll1811
Emmet1791
Clay1711
Hardin1660
Shelby1591
Marion1520
Allamakee1494
Poweshiek1468
Benton1421
Des Moines1392
Jackson1391
Mahaska13617
Guthrie1265
Floyd1242
Jones1231
Cedar1201
Hancock1162
Butler1132
Pocahontas1131
Henry1123
Buchanan1101
Lyon1000
Madison1002
Cherokee971
Clayton973
Harrison960
Taylor930
Lee923
Delaware901
Monona900
Humboldt891
Iowa881
Winneshiek821
Calhoun812
Mills810
Sac810
Fayette790
Jefferson780
Palo Alto780
Kossuth770
Osceola770
Mitchell760
Page740
Winnebago730
Grundy721
Union701
Monroe667
Worth610
Chickasaw500
Davis491
Howard480
Cass471
Appanoose433
Lucas434
Montgomery433
Greene380
Fremont360
Van Buren311
Keokuk301
Ida290
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Decatur210
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