- The Washington Times - Friday, August 23, 2019

Democratic presidential hopeful Tom Steyer is getting antsy about the polls.

His campaign on Friday demanded the Democratic National Committee change the rules to make it easier for Mr. Steyer to get a spot in the September debate in Houston.

Facing an Aug. 28 deadline to qualify, Mr. Steyer has scored 2% in three polls but still needs to do it again to get in the debate.

“The polling is clear. In just over six weeks, Tom’s message of breaking the corporate stranglehold in Washington is resonating in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada,” Steyer campaign manager Heather Hargreaves said in a statement. “The American people deserve to hear this message in September but are being denied by the lack of recent qualifying polls. Today, we are calling on the DNC to expand their polling criteria to include more qualifying polling.

“As a party, we want to ensure the will of the voters is respected,” Ms. Hargreaves said.

Mr. Steyer, a hedge fund billionaire and liberal activists, jumped into the race last month. He pledged to spend $100 million of his fortune on the race and poured money into TV ads in early voting states Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. It paid off with rising poll numbers in Iowa and South Carolina, where he broke the 2% threshold in a total of three polls.

His social media campaign for $1 contributions also managed to net him the 130,000 individual donations across 20 states required for the debate

The Steyer campaign argued that other polls that the DNC does not recognize should count toward qualifying for the debate.

Recent polls not recognized by the DNC include a Morning Consult poll of several early voting states, in which Mr. Steyer scored 7%, and a Gravis poll of Nevada voters, in which he scored 6%.

Due to Mr. Steyer’s late entry in the race, he was not in the first two debates for 2020 Democratic contenders.

The DNC raised the bar to get into the third debate, and many of candidates in the race are expected not to qualify.

The candidates now must meet both polling and donor thresholds, instead of either, and each threshold is higher than it had been.

Candidates now need the 2% in the polls and 130,000 donors across 20 states, up from 1% in polls or 65,000 donors required for the first two debates.

So far, 10 candidates appear to have made the cut: former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas, entrepreneur Andrew Yang and former Housing Secretary Julián Castro.

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

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