10 Democrats Set for Houston Debate As Several Others Miss Cut

August 29, 2019 by Dan McCue
From left, Democratic presidential candidates New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), former housing secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, and former Maryland congressman John Delaney take part in the first night of the Democratic presidential debate on Wednesday, June 26, 2019, in Miami, Fla. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/TNS)

WASHINGTON —Ten Democratic presidential candidates have qualified to appear in the next debate, guaranteeing for the first time this election cycle that the front-runners in the contest will finally come face-to-face in a one-night event.

The next debate, sponsored by ABC News and the Spanish-language network Univision, will be held at Texas Southern University on Sept. 12.

The winnowing of the field onstage during the debate is expected to have a similar effect on the presidential race as well.

Hours ahead of the midnight Wednesday deadline for candidates to qualify, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand dropped out of the race after spending more than $4 million on a campaign that never gained traction.

Billionaire climate change activist Tom Steyer, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and self-help guru Marianne Williamson were also among those missing September’s debate, as were Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

To appear on stage in Houston next month, candidates had to hit 2% in at least four approved public opinion polls while securing 130,000 unique donors.

Two new polls released Wednesday affirmed that they were all below the threshold.

Making the cut were former Vice President Joe Biden, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, California Sen. Kamala Harris, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

In defending the DNC’s requirements to appear in the debate, Democratic Party spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa said, “We believe you need to show progress in your campaign.

“There hasn’t been one candidate in 40 years who has polled under 2% the fall ahead of a primary and has gone on to be the Democratic nominee,” she said.

Although not making the debate is considered a potentially debilitating blow to the candidates who didn’t make the cut, several have nonetheless vowed to continue on in hopes of making the stage in the next debate, slated for October.

Steyer, a late entry in the presidential contest, was the closest to qualifying but acknowledged Wednesday night that he had fallen short.

In a tweet to supporters he said while he’s disappointed he won’t be on the debate stage in Houston, “I’m excited by all the support you’ve shown us.”

“We started this campaign to get corporate influence out of politics, and I won’t stop fighting until the government belongs to the people again,” Steyer said.

Marianne Williamson, who only reached 2% support in one of the 4 polls she needed to qualify, responded on Twitter with a fundraising appeal.

“While I didn’t make the 4 polls at 2% which would have gotten me into the 3rd DNC debate, I have until Oct. to make it into the 4th one,” she said. “Please donate now to help us build the campaign and increase our exposure.”

A number of the candidates who did not make the stage for the third debate complained that the DNC favored the frontrunners in establishing its qualifying threshold.

But the race’s early front-runner, Joe Biden, said he would like the field to get even smaller.

“I’m looking forward to getting to the place, assuming I’m still around, that it gets down to a smaller number of people so we can have more of a discussion instead of one-minute assertions,” he told the Associated Press while campaigning in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

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