A new decision from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) announced Thursday could potentially result in Montana Gov. Steve Bullock being left off the debate stage at the first event scheduled for later this month.
In order to qualify for the debate, a candidate must either receive donations from at least 65,000 unique donors (with a minimum of 200 donors in more than 19 states) or receive at least 1 percent support in three DNC-approved polls.
The DNC told Politico that two Washington Post/ABC News polls would not count towards the approved polls, despite many considering it to be an acceptable one. Bullock reached the 1% threshold in one of those polls that will no longer count. Accounting for the poll’s disqualification, he’s only reached the necessary threshold twice. Prior, Bullock thought he reached the 1% marker in three polls.
“While Governor Bullock was expanding Medicaid to one in ten Montanans despite a nearly 60% Republican legislature, the DNC was making arbitrary rules behind closed doors,” Jenn Ridder, Bullock’s campaign manager, said in a statement provided to The Daily Caller. “The DNC’s unmasking of this rule unfairly singles out the only Democratic candidate who won a Trump state — and penalizes him for doing his job.”
The DNC has limited the number of candidates permitted to the debate stage at 20. As of Thursday, 20 of the 23 candidates have reached one of the qualifying benchmarks. Thirteen of the 20 candidates have reached both markers, which clinches them a spot on the debate stage. The other seven who have qualified did so via polling and not through the donation requirement.
In the event Bullock or another candidate is able to qualify before the deadline, which takes place June 12, it would force a tiebreaker to settle the remaining seven slots (or the number of spots left after accounting for the candidates who hit both markers). Those spots will go to whoever has the highest polling average until they reach the 20-candidate capacity.
The DNC did not return a request for comment.