Cover Stories

State of Debates

by Chris Hedgpeth

 

As we pass the fourth Democratic debate for the 2020 presidential election, the field is beginning to winnow. After starting with a 20-something candidate field in June, we’re approaching the fifth debate in November with only nine qualifying contenders (a few more may qualify before then).

A month after that, the sixth debate will begin to have much stricter requirements. To qualify in December, candidates will need to poll at 4% in four national or early-state polls or 6% in two early-state polls and reach 200,000 unique donors by December 12th. The four early states (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina) hold their primaries in February, setting the tone for the rest of the nation.

Lots of changes have happened in the past few weeks. Investment banker and billionaire Tom Steyer, who began running in July, appeared in his first debate on October 15th. Steyer has spent six times more on advertisements than all the other Democratic candidates combined, totalling about $26 million.

This is about a quarter of the $100 million he expects to spend of his personal funds before the 2020 election is over. Less than 5% of Steyer’s campaign funding came from small donors, compared to Andrew Yang’s 68%, Bernie Sanders’ 58%, and Elizabeth Warren’s 53%.

During a podcast interview airing on October 17th, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (not in the race) made some disparaging comments about U.S. Representative and Hawaii National Guard Major Tulsi Gabbard. Clinton suggested Gabbard was being groomed by Russia to interfere with the 2020 election, implying Rep. Gabbard would run on a third party ticket to spoil the election for Democrats.

Tulsi fired back in a series of tweets, criticizing Clinton for her involvement in the war in Iraq, referring to Hillary as the “queen of warmongers”. Clinton was one of 29 Democratic senators (including Joe Biden) to vote for the authorization of military force in Iraq in 2003. Gabbard announced on October 25th that she will not seek another term in Congress, though she is continuing her presidential campaign.

The Iowa Democratic Party is holding a massive Liberty and Justice Celebration on November 1st in Des Moines. A few hours prior to this event, candidate Andrew Yang is holding his own “Yangapalooza”, featuring a live performance from Weezer and former Third Eye Blind guitarist Kevin Cadogan.

Opening the event is Kyle Christensen, a musician who was recently forced to sell his musical equipment to pay for his mother’s cancer treatment. Kyle was chosen as one of the recipients of Yang’s Freedom Dividend UBI pilot program, where he will receive $1000 a month for the next year to improve his quality of life. Kyle will be playing a new guitar he purchased using the Freedom Dividend.

Joining the ranks of former Democratic candidates on October 24th was Congressman Tim Ryan. Prior to Rep. Ryan’s departure, Bill De Blasio, Kirsten Gillibrand, Seth Moulton, Jay Inslee, John Hickenlooper, Mike Gravel, and Eric Swalwell have all dropped out of the race.

As the Democratic National Committee tightens its requirements to qualify for future debates, this list will grow significantly in the next few months. December’s sixth debate marks the halfway point in a series of twelve, ending in April of 2020, when the DNC will choose who will run against Donald Trump next November.

Categories: Cover Stories

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