Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

There are only a few days left in our critical Mid-Year Campaign and we truly might not make it without your help.
Please join us. If you rely on independent media, support Common Dreams today. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Democratic presidential candidate, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks about affordable housing during a campaign event where he received an endorsement from District of Columbia Mayor, Muriel Bowser, on January 30, 2020 in Washington, D.C.

Democratic presidential candidate, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks about affordable housing during a campaign event where he received an endorsement from District of Columbia Mayor, Muriel Bowser, on January 30, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

'Definition of a Rigged System,' Says Sanders Campaign After DNC Changes Debate Rules for Billionaire Latecomer Mike Bloomberg

"DNC changing the rules to benefit a billionaire."

Eoin Higgins

After debate rules were changed in favor of allowing billionaire Mike Bloomberg to join the candidates onstage vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on Friday, Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign hit back, calling the decision emblematic of the corrupt political system the Vermont senator has centered his run for the White House on defeating.

"To now change the rules in the middle of the game to accommodate Mike Bloomberg, who is trying to buy his way into the Democratic nomination, is wrong," Sanders senior adviser Jeff Weaver told Politico. "That's the definition of a rigged system."

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) announced Friday afternoon that the criteria for making the debate stage will no longer include a requirement about individual donors—allowing Bloomberg, whose campaign is largely self-funded, to join the candidates if his polling numbers reach the new threshold. 

"DNC changing the rules to benefit a billionaire," tweeted Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir. "I much prefer Democrats being a grassroots party. And under Bernie Sanders, that's the way it will be."

According to Politico:

 

Candidates will need to earn at least 10% in four polls released from Jan. 15 to Feb. 18, or 12% in two polls conducted in Nevada or South Carolina, in order to participate in the Feb. 19 debate in Las Vegas. Any candidate who earns at least one delegate to the national convention in either the Iowa caucuses or New Hampshire primary will also qualify for the Nevada debate.

The rules change caught Democrats by surprise. 

Some observers noted the timing of the change and wondered if it was part of a coordinated attack on Sanders from both the DNC and Bloomberg. 

The Intercept's Ryan Grim, citing Federal Elections Commission data, noted Bloomberg donated $325,000 to the DNC in November 2019. 

"Totally normal system," said Grim.

The debate rules have been a source of contention throughout the primary process, with some former hopefuls like Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro questioning the restrictions on polling and donors as prohibitive to their campaigns.

Progressive strategist Tim Tagaris wondered what could have been different if not for the qualifications.

"How much money did candidates like Julián Castro and Cory Booker have to spend chasing donor thresholds that could have been spent building organizations in early states?" said Tagaris.

Comedian and writer Jack Allison took a wry look at the changes and what they mean about the party. 

"Remember when they wouldn't even think of changing them for like Cory Booker," Allison tweeted. "This is what we mean when we talk about the DNC cheating, obviously and out in the open."

"Thankfully seeing Bloomberg speak can only hurt his standing," Allison added, "but still."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Progressive Delia Ramirez Defeats Billionaire PAC Money to Win Illinois Primary

"Billionaires and their super PACs are spending millions to defeat progressive candidates," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, who endorsed Ramirez. "They have the money, but we've got the people."

Jake Johnson ·


'Witness Intimidation. Clear as Day': Jan. 6 Panel Teases Evidence of Cover-Up Effort

"Add witness tampering to the laundry list of crimes Trump and his allies must be charged with," said professor Robert Reich.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Bombshell After Bombshell' Dropped as Jan. 6 Testimony Homes In On Trump Guilt

"Hutchinson's testimony of the deeply detailed plans of January 6 and the inaction of those in the White House in response to the violence show just how close we came to a coup," said one pro-democracy organizer.

Brett Wilkins ·


Mark Meadows 'Did Seek That Pardon, Yes Ma'am,' Hutchinson Testifies

The former aide confirmed that attorney Rudy Giuliani also sought a presidential pardon related to the January 6 attack.

Jessica Corbett ·


UN Chief Warns of 'Ocean Emergency' as Leaders Confront Biodiversity Loss, Pollution

"We must turn the tide," said Secretary-General António Guterres. "A healthy and productive ocean is vital to our shared future."

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo