The Democratic National Committee on Thursday released the list of presidential candidates who qualified for the party's first primary debate at the end of the month, and missing from the pack is Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.
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Bullock is one of two dozen Democrats seeking their party's presidential nomination for the 2020 election. He entered the race late, a month ago, saying he couldn't announce earlier because the state Legislature was still in session.
On Tuesday Bullock submitted paperwork to the Democratic National Committee to be certified to appear in the debates set for June 26-27. In the letter, Bullock says he met the polling threshold in three of the polls in which the DNC said candidates needed to register 1% to qualify.
Bullock included a Feb. 8 poll from the Washington Post/ABC News, an open-ended poll where instead of being read a list of names, respondents tell pollsters their preferred candidate. Last week the DNC told Politico that it would not count such opened-ended polls, likely leaving Bullock out of the debate.
The Bullock campaign cried foul at the rule change, saying it unfairly penalized the governor for officially entering the race late. Montana members of the DNC also sent a letter to the committee demanding Bullock be allowed to participate.
In the Tuesday letter to the DNC, Bullock tried to set up a showdown over the qualifying polls.
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"… The poll plainly meets the standards published by the DNC. The poll was conducted by a DNC-approved vendor and the governor met the 1% threshold," the letter reads. " … Since there is no sufficient warrant to exclude such a poll in either of the original rules or in the Polling Method Certification form promulgated by the DNC this week, the poll meets the DNC requirements and is valid. As such, Gov. Bullock has met the threshold to qualify for the first debates and he looks forward to joining his colleagues on the state for this important occasion."
Bullock is back in Montana on Thursday after campaigning in Iowa and Chicago earlier in the week. In the small town of Jefferson, Iowa, on Monday, one Democrat who came to meet Bullock said she was frustrated with the DNC's role in setting the debate stage.
"We take our role very seriously. Who can tell the DNC to bug out? It's not their job to winnow the field. It's our job, we are the ones who make informed decisions," said Kathleen Gannon, of Jasper County. " … I don't want the DNC saying these are the people who will speak at this."
After the Iowa Hall of Fame celebration in Cedar Rapids on Sunday, where Bullock gave a five-minute stump speech with 19 of the other Democrats running, Bullock acknowledged he would most likely not make the debate. He told Democrats he met with the following two days that he'd work to increase his name recognition by traveling the state and meeting with people one-on-one.
Twenty of the candidates met the criteria — Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet; former Vice President Joe Biden; New Jersey U.S. Sen. Cory Booker; South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Buttigieg; former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro; New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio; former U.S. Rep. John Delaney of Maryland; Hawaii U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard; New York U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand; California U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris; former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper; Washington Gov. Jay Inslee; Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar; former Texas U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke; Ohio U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan; Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders; California U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell; Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren; self-help author Marianne Williamson; and businessman Andrew Yang.
Other candidates who did not make the cut are U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, of Massachusetts; Miramar, Florida, Mayor Wayne Messam; and former Alaska U.S. Sen. Mike Gravel.