Tom Steyer Narrowly Fails to Qualify for Next Democratic Debate

The lineup for the third official Democratic debate has just been cast in stone, and one candidate fell just short of making the cut.

Billionaire activist Tom Steyer (D-Calif.), after previously declaring in January that he would not join the race, reversed course and jumped into the contest significantly later in July.

Despite the late entry, Steyer had a plan for instantly climbing into the upper tier of candidates, according to Politico. Being by far the wealthiest candidate in the race (with a net worth of $1.6 billion), Steyer vowed to spend more money on his campaign for the nomination than any other Democrat, even claiming he would spend up to $100 million.

He focused his spending largely on TV and social media ads, particularly on Facebook, for the purpose of elevating his candidacy enough to qualify for the debates. This strategy initially seemed on the verge of success: He surpassed the individual donor threshold of 130,000 in mid-August and had achieved two percent or higher in three polls officially recognized by the DNC. But he remained one poll short as of the midnight deadline on August 28th, thus excluding him from the third debate, set for September 12th.

Steyer has largely made impeaching President Donald Trump the central issue of his campaign, a cause to which he had already been devoted to spending millions on prior to declaring his candidacy. He is also one of only three non-politicians in the primary field, and thus also sought to market himself as a political outsider.

Two other candidates also came close to qualifying but just missed out: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) had met the donor threshold and qualified in two polls, while author Marianne Williamson also had enough donors but registered in only one poll. Governor Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) had also met the donor criteria but failed to qualify in a single poll, and dropped out of the race last week. The remaining seven candidates have failed to achieve either criteria.

The fourth debate, scheduled for sometime in October, will feature the exact same qualifications as the third debate but with a much longer deadline, meaning that Steyer, Gabbard, and Williamson may still have a chance to appear on that stage even if they miss out on the September event.

About Eric Lendrum

Eric Lendrum graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was the Secretary of the College Republicans and the founding chairman of the school’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter. He has interned for Young America’s Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, and the White House, and has worked for numerous campaigns including the 2018 re-election of Congressman Devin Nunes (CA-22).

Photo: (Photo JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)

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