The Democratic National Committee made it official on Thursday, inviting 20 candidates to participate in the first round of 2020 presidential primary debates in Miami on June 26 and 27, as Politico reported:
The candidates are, in alphabetical order: Michael Bennet, Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, Bill de Blasio, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Tim Ryan, Bernie Sanders, Eric Swalwell, Elizabeth Warren, Marianne Williamson and Andrew Yang.
Four announced candidates didn’t make the cut: Montana governor Steve Bullock; Congressman Seth Moulton of Massachusetts; former senator Mike Gravel; and Miramar, Florida mayor Wayne Messam. The only real controversy involved Bullock, who appeared to have qualified via a one percent showing in three polls until the DNC clarified that it would not accept open-ended polls, which included one crucial to Bullock’s credentials. Team Bullock has been complaining bitterly over his exclusion, but he will get a chance to qualify for the second round of debates in July, which will have the same set of criteria for participation but will utilize updated polling and fundraising information. If the list does grow, the DNC will have to go to a tiebreaker formula since it has capped the debate roster at 20, with ten candidates assigned to a two-hour debate each night.
Those assignments will be worked out today, as the Washington Post reports:
Debate hosts NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo have invited representatives from the campaigns who made the cut to a drawing midday Friday in Manhattan to sort out who will appear onstage each night, according to two officials familiar with the plans, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the meeting had not been publicly announced. The selection process, which will not be televised, will first sort candidates polling at 2 percent or higher over the two nights, with a separate drawing for those with lower polling numbers.
That way you don’t wind up with all the heavyweights on the stage the same night. Once the exact roster for each night is announced, debate prep will begin in earnest, and you can expect the candidates to start disappearing from the campaign trail intermittently in order to rehearse. The sponsors have announced five moderators for the first round of debates: Lester Holt, Savannah Guthrie, Rachel Maddow, José Díaz-Balart, and Chuck Todd, though it’s unclear who will be on-camera which night. That’s certainly the most diverse set of moderators in presidential-candidate debate history.