- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 6, 2019

The head of the Democratic National Committee said Wednesday that he “strongly” disagrees with criticisms that the party has put its finger on the scale in the 2020 presidential primary race, saying the debate criteria were set explicitly in advance to make sure the entire field got a “fair shake.”

DNC Chairman Tom Perez told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor that the candidates that have met the debate thresholds have shown viability and that time could be running on out lower-tier candidates to rise.

“What we have done is do what you do in every campaign — the closer you get to Iowa and New Hampshire and voting, you raise the bar because candidates have to demonstrate they are getting traction,” Mr. Perez said.

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He added, “There is no candidate that I am aware of on the Democratic side who has been under 4% in the polls in December who has gone on to win the nomination or even have traction for a large part of the primary cycle.”

The grumblings about the DNC rules started early on after Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana failed to make the cut for the opening debate, which required candidates to register at least 1% in three polls, and receive at least 65,000 unique donors, with at least 200 donors in 20 different states.

The DNC has since raised the bar and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii griped about the rules when she missed the third debate. Ms. Gabbard, however, learned on Wednesday that she had become the 10th candidate to qualify for the fifth debate on Nov. 20 in Atlanta.

The others are: former Vice President Joseph R. Biden; Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bernard Sanders, Kamala D. Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Cory A. Booker; South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; and businessmen Andrew Yang and Tom Steyer.

Ms. Gabbard, Mr. Yang, Mr. Booker, and Mr. Steyer have not yet qualified for the Dec. 19 showdown in Los Angeles, where, to qualify, the candidates need 200,000 unique donors, and to reach either 6% in a couple of early state polls or 4% in four early state or national polls.

“We have made sure we are exceedingly inclusive,” Mr. Perez said. “I am proud of what we have done and it is indeed going to be up to the voters.”

Mr. Perez also said at Wednesday’s breakfast that the Democratic takeover of the Virginia Statehouse in the election this week shows voters are fed up with President Trump breaking his promises, including when it comes to combating mass shootings.

“I think the issue of reducing gun violence is an issue of national importance and this president has broken his promises repeatedly to the American people,” Mr. Perez said. “He says the day after a shooting he has to do something about background checks and the day after he meets with the NRA.”

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, sought to pass gun-control measures during a special legislative session this summer, but Republicans in the state tossed the issue to the state’s crime commission for more study and adjourned after 90 minutes, infuriating gun-control advocates.

“We need to stop going to funerals and we need to stop kowtowing to the NRA,” Mr. Perez said. “People have spoken.”

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