NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, July 17th, 2019

July Democratic presidential debate lineup set; Montana’s Steve Bullock makes the cut

Today, the Democratic National Committee announced the names of the candidates that had qualified for the second round of Democratic debates, to be held in Detroit later this month. In a similar format to the last round of debating, twenty candidates will face off over the course of two nights.

Skyline of Detroit

The second round of debates will be held in Detroit (Photo: Shawn Wilson, reproduced under a Creative Commons license)

The criteria to enter this round of debates are the same as those for the first round: a candidate must either poll above 1% in three or more DNC-approved polls or have at least 65,000 unique donors to their campaign.

The candidates are, in alphabetical order:

  • Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey
  • Montana Governor Steve Bullock,
  • South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg
  • Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro
  • New York Mayor Bill de Blasio
  • Former U.S. Representative John Delaney
  • U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii
  • Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York
  • Senator Kamala Harris of California
  • Former Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado
  • Governor Jay Inslee of Washington
  • Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota
  • Former U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas
  • U.S. Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio
  • Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont
  • Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts
  • Marianne Williamson
  • Andrew Yang

The lineup is almost exactly the same as the first debate, with the single change being that California Representative Eric Swalwell recently dropped out of the race. He will be replaced on the stage by Montana’s governor, Steve Bullock.

Bullock narrowly missed out on qualifying for the first debates (much to his campaign’s outrage), and he will be hoping to use this debate to point out that he was re-elected as a Democratic governor on the same day that Donald Trump won his state by twenty points, arguing that he can woo at least some of the Trump voters back to the Democratic column.

Several Democratic candidates will not make it to the debates in Detroit. Representative Seth Moulton and Wayne Messam, the mayor of Miramar, Florida, have both been campaigning for months, but have failed entirely to make any impact in the polls. Alaska’s former senator, Mike Gravel, has reportedly qualified for the debate based on the DNC’s donor threshold, but failed to make the twenty-person cut off, as the DNC prioritizes polling results over donor requirements.

Two candidates have entered the race since the first debate – former U.S. Representative Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania and California billionaire Tom Steyer – but they will not be on stage. They ave not had enough time to raise either the funds or the polling support required to be included in the debate.

CNN is set to host the second round of debates.

Instead of trying to organize which candidates will debate each other on which nights based on polling, the network will hold a multi-stage live draw on Thursday night to determine the schedule for candidates.

The July debate is almost certainly the last time that viewers will watch so many candidates debate each other at once for the 2020 cycle; the qualifying thresholds for the third debate – set to be held in mid-September – are significantly higher.

To make the third debate this autumn, a candidate must poll at 2% and have over 130,000 unique donors. To date, only five Democrats have met this threshold: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg.

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