It may not often appear that way but I actually do try to keep my articles somewhat short. I had another point I wanted to make about the 2020 Democratic presidential primary which I decided would be the basis of today’s article. Also, Tuesday morning one of my “predictions” became reality making my article somewhat obsolete. Let’s explore.
Tuesday I awoke to the announcement that Bernie Sanders had declared. That was not a surprise but it will impact the race; at least the early part. I had expected somebody (most likely Sanders) to have declared on Monday. It was Presidents’ Day, Congress was not in session and Trump was “working” out of Mar-a-Lago so the chances of being overshadowed were slim. Tuesday is much more of a political workday; it is the rollout day for Andrew McCabe’s book which will take up a lot of media time and space. In other words, guaranteed competition for media attention. One of the objectives of an announcement is to dominate at least one news cycle. At any rate, Bernie is in and my article was stale before almost anyone read it.
In the last race for DNC Chair I was silent mainly because I didn’t have a favorite. I knew more about Keith Ellison than I did about Tom Perez but I liked them both. As each week passes I like Perez more and more. He is doing a great job as the structural leader of the Democratic Party. I like that he is investing more in the ground game and data mainly by shifting more resources to the state and local levels than they have seen in decades. The political climate has undoubtedly helped, but the results of the 2017 and 2018 speak for themselves.
Last week he announced the basic plan for handling what will be a challenging problem: the early presidential primary debates. Last cycle we saw the RNC did a terrible job of handling the huge number of early candidates. The undercard-main event format was ridiculous. Most people ended up calling the preliminary the kiddie table and it drew flies both in person and on TV.
It appears that Perez may even have more participants to juggle than Reince Priebus did in 2016. There is a very good chance that there will be over 20 candidates when the 2020 Democratic debates commence in June of 2019. That is a challenge and it appears Perez came up with a solution that will be as fair as possible under challenging circumstances.
First off there will be no kiddie table. The debates will be open to a maximum of 20 participants. There are two ways to qualify. The first is to poll more than 1% in at least 3 polls deemed legitimate by the DNC. The second is to have received 65,000 donations with at least 200 coming from 20 different states. This means anybody who has support or can demonstrate grass roots fundraising ability gets into the game. If a candidate can’t hit either of those thresholds how can they claim to have a legitimate shot at winning the presidency?
Note it is not both; it is an either-or situation. There is also no dollar amount; it is simply the number of unique contributors. If you have any measure of national support you are in. Especially in the early stages, there is a possibility of more than 20 candidates meeting one of the thresholds, but if you can’t make the top 20 do you really have a chance of winning in November of 2020?
When it comes to selecting the pairings for the groups of 10 (or 9 or 8 etc.) it will be by a blind drawing. While you may not see the matchup you desire, each “heat” will have top tier candidates. Also a less well known candidate will get a chance to be seen with the likes of a Kamala Harris or Bernie Sanders,
The first debates are scheduled for June and will be hosted and telecast by NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo. They will run on consecutive nights. That is as fair as can be under these circumstances and will eliminate the kiddie table.
Besides being as fair as possible to the candidates, much more importantly it will be fair to the American people. The Democrats have an abundance of talent and don’t feel the need to hide any crazy “uncles or aunts.”
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