A former Democratic National Committee official is worried that the party's overly inclusive primary process is going to give too much valuable debate time to "the bullshit candidates" in the race.
Speaking with the Hill, the unnamed official didn't single out anyone specifically from the field of 22 candidates. The official did mourn that because of the low threshold for making the first debate stage in June—getting donations from 65,000 unique people or reaching 1 percent in three different national polls—the more serious contenders will get crowded out by the "random people."
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"It was smart to add the grass-roots fundraising component, but when you throw in the 1 percent polling requirement, now all these random people get a spot on the stage," the official said.
"I'm all for inclusion and competitive primaries, but no one can tell me it's actually good for us to have this many candidates on stage. It wasn't good for Republicans and they at least had an undercard debate. My fear is the bullshit candidates will take away from our legitimate ones. We saw how that worked for Republicans. They nominated Donald Trump."
The field is the largest in presidential primary history, with well-known candidates like former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), and Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) being joined by lesser-known figures like entrepreneur Andrew Yang, author Marianne Williamson, and congressmen like Reps. Seth Moulton (D., Mass.), Tim Ryan (D., Ohio), and Tulsi Gabbard (D., Hawaii).
Other contenders include South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sens. Cory Booker (D., N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), Michael Bennet (D., Colo.), Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.), former representative Beto O'Rourke (D., Texas), former representative John Delaney (D., Md.), Rep. Eric Swalwell (D., Calif.), Washington governor Jay Inslee, and former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper.
The DNC will announce the lineup next month for the first two debates, to be held June 26 and 27 and hosted by NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo. Assuming 20 candidates achieve the minimum, there will be 10 candidates on the stage both nights. Their names will be drawn at random to determine who goes on stage on which night.
The Hill reported that if more than 20 qualify, the field will be determined first by those who have met both the polling and fundraising thresholds, followed by those left over with the highest polling average and then the most unique donors.
The DNC was sharply criticized by Sanders supporters in 2016 for limiting the number of debates and was accused of rigging the contest in favor of establishment favorite Hillary Clinton.