The Democratic National Committee announced Wednesday that 20 presidential hopefuls will again debate over two nights with the only changes to the lineup being that California Rep. Eric Swalwell has dropped out and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock made the cut.
Once again who debates on which night will be determined by a random drawing to take place Thursday on CNN, which is hosting the debate on July 30 and 31.
The declared candidates who did not meet the necessary threshold are Rep. Seth Moulton (Mass.), former congressman Joe Sestak (Pa.), Miramar, Fla., Mayor Wayne Messam and billionaire Tom Steyer.
Sestak and Steyer only recently got in the race and have said they didn’t expect to make it onto this month’s debate stage.
But the Moulton campaign, in anticipation of his not getting in, sent a letter Wednesday to DNC Chairman Tom Perez, arguing that the thresholds for polling and fundraising do not accurately gauge the Massachusetts congressman’s relative strength in the field.
“Seth Moulton, a Marine Corps veteran who served four combat tours in Iraq, is running in the Democratic presidential primary on a platform of keeping our country safe and secure, taking back patriotism for our party, and encouraging every American to serve our nation,” Moulton’s campaign manager Marie Harf wrote. “These issues need to be discussed in our party’s debates if we want to select the best candidate to take on and beat Donald Trump.”
To qualify for the second debate, candidates needed to register 1 percent support in three polls approved by the DNC or have 65,000 unique campaign donors, with a minimum of 200 donors per state in at least 20 states.
Moulton’s campaign submitted 12 polls in which Moulton has 1 percent support but none are on the DNC’s list of approved surveys.
“Some are more highly rated or more accurate over time than some of the polls that do count,” Harf wrote.
She also noted that Moulton had raised more money in the second quarter of the year than five candidates who were on the first debate stage in Miami — for which Moulton did not quality either.
While the number of donors a candidate has is important, “so is longevity — and we believe our fundraising numbers are evidence of our staying power in this race,” Harf said.
The DNC methodology is likely to come under further scrutiny as the next scheduled debate in September draws closer with tougher qualifications.
To qualify for that debate, candidates will have to register at 2 percent in four party-approved polls and show they have 130,000 unique donors, including at least 400 individual donors in at least 20 states.