It sounds like the setup for a terrible gag: How many Democrats can you squeeze on to a debate stage?
Well, the DNC is about to find out.
According to Bloomberg, the DNC has unveiled the list of candidates who will take part in the first presidential primary debates of the 2020 election.
The group of 20 'finalist' candidates will be split into two groups of ten, and each will perform in one of the two 'first round' debates to be held in Miami on June 26 and June 27. Each group will be selected 'at random', with a proper mix of high- and low-polling candidates.
To qualify for the debate, the DNC required candidates to show a threshold of at least 1% support in major polls, or 65,000 individual donations from at least 20 states. If more than 20 candidates qualified, the DNC would decide who to cut (which would have given them a great excuse to get rid of Bernie before things start getting out of hand like they did during the last go-round).
Here's the final list of contenders:
- Joe Biden, former vice president
- Elizabeth Warren, U.S. senator from Massachusetts
- Bernie Sanders, U.S. senator from Vermont
- Pete Buttigieg, South Bend, Indiana, mayor
- Kamala Harris, U.S. senator from California
- Beto O’Rourke, former U.S. congressman from Texas
- Cory Booker, U.S. senator from New Jersey
- Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. senator from New York
- Michael Bennet, U.S. senator from Colorado
- Amy Klobuchar, U.S. senator from Minnesota
- Tim Ryan, U.S. congressman from Ohio
- Eric Swalwell, U.S. congressman from California
- Tulsi Gabbard, U.S. congresswoman from Hawaii
- Jay Inslee, Washington governor
- John Hickenlooper, former Colorado governor
- Julian Castro, former secretary of Housing and Urban Development
- Bill de Blasio, New York City mayor
- John Delaney, former U.S. congressman from Maryland
- Andrew Yang, entrepreneur
- Marianne Williamson, spiritual healer
The unfortunate few who did not qualify for the debate are: Montana Governor Steve Bullock; Miramar, Fla. Mayor Wayne Messam and Congressman Seth Moulton of Massachusetts.
Clearly overcompensating because it's still rattled by how it shot itself in the foot by favoring Hillary Clinton over Sanders during the last go-round, the DNC insisted that its methodology for choosing the debate participants was transparent, and as inclusive as possible.
"Each candidate was invited based on the qualification criteria agreed to by the DNC and NBC News, announced publicly in February," the committee said in a statement.
Of course, by allotting so many candidates to participate, it virtually guarantees that the party's 'frontrunners' - Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden - likely won't get as much air time and attention as they should, given their hopes for taking on President Trump, who has the media's full attention (as well as its scrutiny).