- The Washington Times - Friday, June 7, 2019

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock could find himself on the outside looking in at the opening Democratic National Committee presidential debates later this month, after the DNC clarified its criteria for candidates to get onto the debate stage.

Mr. Bullock had apparently gotten at least 1 percent support in three polls — the minimum polling standard to get on the debate stage later this month.

But the DNC said Thursday that an ABC-Washington Post poll from January that had asked an open-ended question about who Democrats would support in 2020, rather than name a list of specific candidates for respondents to choose from, would not count toward the formula.

Mr. Bullock’s campaign said the change unfairly targets the only major Democratic candidate who has won a statewide race in a state President Trump carried in 2016.

“While Governor Bullock was expanding Medicaid to one in 10 Montanans despite a nearly 60% Republican legislature, the DNC was making arbitrary rules behind closed doors,” said campaign manager Jenn Ridder.

Mr. Bullock’s campaign said he got into the race relatively late because his state’s legislature was still in session. He announced he was running for president last month.

The DNC said Mr. Bullock’s campaign has been aware of the rules since March.

Candidates need to register at least 1 percent support in three polls, or secure at least 65,000 donations including at least 200 from 20 states, in order to qualify for the opening debates later this month.

In a fundraising pitch on Thursday, the Bullock campaign said they found out the DNC changed the rules “this morning.”

“If Democrats want to win back the places we lost like Michigan and Wisconsin, the DNC shouldn’t bar the only Democrat who has won a Trump state,” Ms. Ridder said. “If Democrats want to win back middle America and not leave out the voice of rural voters, the DNC can’t just focus on patches of deep blue.”

The DNC is limiting the first debate to 20 candidates. If more than 20 meet one or both of the thresholds, the party will move to a tie-breaking formula to determine which candidates will be left out.

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