Dems Set First of Crowded Primary Debates for Late June in Miami

Due to the number of candidates, will be split into two nights…

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(Anthony Man, Sun Sentinel) Democratic presidential candidates will likely be all over South Florida during the last week in June.

The Democratic National Committee announced Thursday that the first debate among the candidates for its 2020 presidential nomination will take place in Miami.

The party used the term “debate,” but it’s actually two events on two successive nights, June 26 and June 27.

There are so many candidates that the debates are being split, with random selection process to decide who appears on what night.

The Democrats already have 16 candidates and more are sure to join the field.

To qualify for the debates, candidates will have to either meet thresholds of 1 percent in national polling or in early primary states or receive contributions from 65,000 different donors, with at least 200 of them in each of at least 20 states.

When candidates head to a region for a debate, many hold events before and after.

In 2016, Bernie Sanders held his only Florida rally before the state’s presidential primary because he was headed to South Florida for a debate. He was in the region to debate Hillary Clinton at Miami-Dade College’s Kendall campus, so he held a rally for supporters the day before.

The first debates among the 2020 Democratic candidates will be broadcast on NBC and MSNBC and translated into Spanish on the Telemundo network.

The party, although it was able to make some regional gains in congressional seats, faced tough losses with the razor-thin defeats of Sen. Bill Nelson and gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum last fall.

However, a ballot initiative funded in part by Hungarian-born oligarch George Soros succeeded in restoring the voting rights of more than a million convicted felons.

Gillum has vowed to register the voters, potentially shifting the balance of the notorious battleground state deep into blue territory.

“Miami is the perfect place to introduce our extraordinary presidential candidates to the country,” Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo said in a statement. “People are hungry for new leadership in the White House, and after the first debate, they’re going to be fired up and ready to organize for Democrats.”

Tom Perez, the Democratic national chairman, called Miami “a vibrant and dynamic city that reflects the values and diversity of the Democratic Party.”

(c)2019 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.