The First Democratic Presidential Debates Will Be Next Month

Amanda Mitchell
Photo credit: Getty Images

From Marie Claire

As a person who knows little to nothing about all forms of sports, my version of the Olympics will be the 2020 election's presidential debates. But instead of medals, the winner gets to be the President of the United States of America! (Personally, right now, I'd rather have the medal.)

And since this is the year that everyone and their mother decided they wanted to run to be the Democratic candidate for President of The United States-I can't really blame anyone for wanting to take over the job from its current holder-the Democratic National Committee has announced plans to hold 12 debates during the 2020 presidential primary.

Update, 5/10: We have a time and a place, people. The very first Democratic debate of 2020 season will be June 26 at 9 p.m. ET, and it'll be at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami, Florida. It'll be closely followed by a second debate on June 27 at 9 p.m. ET, where the remaining ten candidates-a total of 20 will debate over the course of the two evenings-will hash it out.

Yes, we already have more than 20 Democratic candidates in the race, but only 18 have technically qualified so far (you need one percent support in a handful of polls). If more than 20 end up qualifying by late June, then only the top 20 candidates will be featured in the debate.

Update, 4/16: Now we're hearing that Washington Democrats want a third presidential primary debate in Seattle, Washingon, according to The Seattle Times. There's a petition to that effect that's being delivered on April 25. There's also more updates on the exact timing and nature of said debates:

"Last month, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who is among a growing group of Democratic presidential contenders, signed a measure moving the state’s presidential primary from May to the second Tuesday in March. State Democrats recently changed the state’s selection process for presidential nominee from caucus to primary. The DNC is already planning debates in Miami in June and Detroit in July."

We also know that the lineups for the debates will be selected at random, with the first half taking the stage on the first night, and the second half on the second night (given how jam-packed the race is now, a third primary debate would actually potentially help spread out the candidates, give everyone a chance to talk, and hopefully not give us election fatigue way before the race even starts).

Watch this space-we'll continue updating as we get more information, which the DNC has promised to release soon.

Original post: The first two debates are slotted for June and July of 2019, and then one debate in each of September, October, November and December of that year. We'll have another six debates in 2020, with the final debate taking place in April, around two months before the Democratic National Convention in July 2020.

I mean, I was thinking they were going to do this Bachelor Bracket-style (I told you, I know nothing about sports) but I guess this works.

According to DNC Chair Tom Perez, none of the 2019 debates will be held in the states that hold early primaries and causes like Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, but rather would take place in the lead-up to their respective contests in 2020.

The DNC did not offer any specific dates or debate sponsors in terms of information, or even the standard to which they will use to determine entry into the debates. But the chairman did share that the DNC will initially consider more elements, such as grassroots fundraising, rather than just polling to determine the standards for qualifying for the first few debates. Oh-and anticipating a large and varied field of candidates, Perez also offered the idea of holding debates on consecutive nights and randomly dividing the field for the first two.

Photo credit: Getty Images

"We will likely have a large field of candidates...We expect that large field, and we welcome that large field," Perez said to CNN. "Accommodating a large field of such qualified candidates is a first-class challenge to have." The chairman also added that be believed "random assignment is the fairest way to give everybody that opportunity to make their voices heard and articulate what they are standing for."

So, why is this happening? Because in 2016, the DNC was accused of bias against Senator Bernie Sanders and former Governor Martin O'Malley by taking steps that were perceived to protect former Secretary of State and then-presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

The DNC is trying to give every candidate a chance to show their platform to voters while "also avoiding weakening the eventual nominee for the general election." The plan came about after consulting with Democratic politicians, strategists and activists, including former and current advisers to Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders, as well as potential media partners, according to the DNC. However, they did not consult with any potential 2020 nominees or their aides, in order to avoid any perception of bias.

Now, this debate plan is one of many moves put in place by the DNC in order to rebuild what seemed to be broken, and Perez himself has said that the DNC hopes to make the debate process more transparent going into 2020 and "ensure that no candidate participating in our presidential nominating process gains any unfair advantage-real or perceived-during our primary season."

Let's get ready to rumble! (They should open each debate with Jock Jams. DNC, call me.)

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