Dear Commons Community,
Yesterday while media eyes were on the impeachment trial of Donald Trump, the Democratic National Committee changed the rules for its presidential nomination debates that will now allow Michael Bloomberg to participate. As reported by Politico and other news media.
The DNC yesterday unveiled its qualification criteria for the ninth Democratic presidential debate on Feb. 19 in Las Vegas, and announced it was doing away with the previous donor threshold that would show candidates had grassroots support.
Michael Bloomberg refused campaign contributions when he announced his presidential bid — a decision that, until now, made him ineligible for any of the DNC debates. He has put more than $200 million of his personal money into his presidential campaign.
“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,” the Bloomberg campaign said in a statement. “Mike has run for office three times and never taken a dime from special interests, allowing him to act independently, on the merits, without having to do what donors expect. He is proud to be doing the same with this campaign.”
Being in the debate would give Bloomberg significantly more visibility beyond his ads, but it would also subject him to potentially tougher questions and scrutiny.
However, the DNC’s announcement received immediate blowback from many Democrats, who charged the committee with granting Bloomberg a favor.
“To now change the rules in the middle of the game to accommodate Mike Bloomberg, who is trying to buy his way into the Democratic nomination, is wrong,” Jeff Weaver, a senior adviser on the Bernie Sanders campaign, said in a statement to HuffPost. “That’s the definition of a rigged system where the rich can buy their way in.”
Bloomberg, a billionaire, has been a generous Democratic Party donor in recent years. He donated $95 million to super PACs benefitting Democrats in the 2018 cycle, and another $325,000 to the DNC in 2019.
The Bloomberg campaign’s advertising budget also eclipses that of every other Democratic presidential campaign, and he has seen his stock rise in national polls because of it. Bloomberg spent $262.9 million on advertising in the first three weeks of January, according to data from Advertising Analytics. By comparison, Sanders, whose campaign has raised more money from individual donors than any other candidate in the race, spent $27.4 million in that time frame.
The donor threshold has not been easy for some candidates to meet. Before they dropped out of the race, both former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) struggled with the requirement and did not qualify for some debates.
Several candidates, including Castro, Booker and businessman Andrew Yang, unsuccessfully lobbied the DNC to change its qualification criteria for previous debates. The DNC said in a December statement to Politico that it would “not change the threshold for any one candidate.”
I think the next debate will be far more interesting with Bloomberg in it.