Author Marianne Williamson has cracked the 65,000-donor threshold to get on the stage for the Democratic primary debates next month, reaching the mark before such candidates as Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) and former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper (D.).
Williamson, who is basing her presidential campaign more around spirituality and principles of moral leadership than nitty-gritty policies, announced Thursday she had hit the number, with at least 200 donors coming from 43 states.
"Ours has been — and will continue to be — a campaign of ideas that people care about and that they are willing to stand behind. It takes a certain kind of audacity to take a stand for something truly new," Williamson said in her announcement.
INBOX: @marwilliamson says she hit the 65,000 unique donor (plus 200 unique donors in 20 states) mark to make the first Democratic debate stage. By my unofficial count (DNC has not yet weighed in), that's 18 people who have met either that or the polling qualification.
— Ben Kamisar (@bkamisar) May 9, 2019
The Democratic National Committee, still smarting from accusations of rigging the 2016 primary for Hillary Clinton, said candidates could qualify for the first debates June 26 and 27 by either getting 65,000 individual donations—including at least 200 unique ones from 20 states—or reaching 1 percent in three reputable national or early-primary state polls.
Should more than 20 qualify out of the giant field—10 candidates per night—then the 20 spots will go to those who met both the polling and fundraising thresholds, followed by those with the highest polling average and then the most unique donors. The candidates who qualify will be drawn at random to determine who appears which nights.
Gillibrand and Hickenlooper have achieved the minimum in polling, according to FiveThirtyEight, but despite being in the race for months they have not hit the 65,000-donor number. Neither have Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D.) or former congressman John Delaney (D., Md.).
Gillibrand made an online petition for donations last month showing her playing beer pong—or water pong—and asking for a $1 donation if she made her shot.
— Philip Wegmann (@PhilipWegmann) April 30, 2019
The Associated Press reported this month that Gillibrand is making the case to be the "coolest candidate in the race."
It's just one of several gimmicky efforts for lower-tier candidates to get over the hump, Politico reported:
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is hawking bumper stickers for $1 donations and used his recent CNN town hall to make a televised plea for more campaign contributions. Former Rep. John Delaney promised to give $2 of his own money to charity for each of the next 100,000 individual donors who gave to his campaign.
A former Democratic National Committee official griped this week that the debate format would allow the "bullshit candidates" to steal valuable time from "our legitimate ones." He didn't say which candidates met those criteria.