Democrats Announce Roster For Second Debate

Once again, twenty candidates will participate in the second debate scheduled to take place over two nights at the end of the month.

Yesterday, the Democratic National Committee announced the list of 20 candidates who have qualified for the next debate to be held July 30th and 31st in Detriot and broadcast on CNN:

The field is set for CNN’s Democratic primary debates later this month.
The Democratic National Committee announced Wednesday that the candidates who have made the debate stage are: Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, former Vice President Joe Biden, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, California Sen. Kamala Harris, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, author Marianne Williamson and businessman Andrew Yang.

The debate will be held over two nights in Detroit on July 30 and 31 at 8 p.m. ET.

CNN will conduct a live, random drawing to determine the candidate lineup for each night. The drawing will air on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET during a special edition of Anderson Cooper 360.

The only change to the pool of qualifying candidates is that Bullock, a candidate who was left out of the first Democratic debates in June, will now be on the stage, replacing California Rep. Eric Swalwell, who dropped out earlier this month.

Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton and Miramar, Florida, Mayor Wayne Messam, two candidates who did not make the first debate stage, will also miss the second debate after failing to qualify.

Billionaire investor Tom Steyer and former Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak, two candidates who recently got into the presidential contest, also failed to qualify for the second round of debates.

Candidates had until 11 a.m. ET Wednesday to certify with the DNC that they have either achieved at least 1% support in three polls from an approved list of pollsters or received campaign contributions from 65,000 unique donors, including 200 donors each from 20 different states.

But based on public information, it had been clear for days that Moulton, Messam, Steyer and Sestak were the four candidates likely to miss the debate stage.

Bullock publicly complained about the DNC before the first debate, arguing that he was being penalized for doing his job as governor of Montana, something that kept him from announcing a 2020 bid earlier. Now, Bullock is celebrating that he will make the second contest.

“I’m going to be in the second debate in two weeks,” Bullock said Wednesday morning on MSNBC. “I’m really excited about it.”

Moulton’s campaign complained to the DNC on Wednesday about the thresholds set to determine who makes the debate stage.

“The online donor debate qualification is an important measure of the strength of a campaign, but so is longevity — and we believe our fundraising numbers are evidence of our staying power in this race,” Marie Harf, a Moulton aide, wrote in a letter to DNC Chairman Tom Perez. The letter noted that Moulton outraised de Blasio, Delaney, Hickenlooper, Ryan and Swalwell, all of whom made the first debate stage.

Moulton has not announced what he will do when all of the other candidates are at the debate. For the Miami contest, Moulton traveled to the city for the media exposure.

The participants in this debate are essentially the same as the June debate with the exception of Montana Governor Steve Bullock, who was excluded from the first debate but is getting in this time thanks largely to the fact that California Congressman Eric Swalwell dropped out of the race earlier this month. As for the rest of the candidates, Joe Sestak and Tom Steyer entered the race just a few weeks ago so it’s no surprise that they didn’t make the cutoff in the debate criteria. The other two excluded candidates, including Seth Moulton and a Florida Mayor who I’ve never heard of before, have bee so far down the list in polling and fundraising that it is no surprise they didn’t get invited.

The next question is what night these candidates will end up being on, which will be decided by a draw to be held tonight on CNN. Last month, the draw ended up being somewhat lopsided, with Elizabeth Warren being alone among the first night and the second night being dominated by frontrunners such as Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, and Kamala Harris. This time, there have apparently been some changes made to the process that are designed to try to avoid the bunching up that we saw last time. Which candidate ends u p on which night will be interesting to see.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Hal_10000 says:

    Would massively prefer the “kids table” model of this one. Top five who have an actual chance of winning get the prime time slot; the other 15 can stroke their egos on CSPAN.

  2. Gustopher says:

    @Hal_10000: We’re still to early for that — the candidates are still introducing themselves, and the race is in flux. I’d say there’s a 50-50 chance that the nominee won’t be one of the folks in the top tier right now (no idea who would be the nominee in that scenario). Be patient.

    I’m pleased Bullock is going to be there. On paper, he sounds like a decent moderate Democrat who could break out from the pack. The moderate lane is currently Biden (ancient, gaffe-prone) and a bunch of nobodies who haven’t broken out from the pack.

    I want a progressive candidate, but if the party wants a moderate, I hope we can find someone less Joe Biden. Someone who isn’t going to be 80 during his term, and someone who doesn’t suggest a push up competition.

  3. Gustopher says:

    Warren and Sanders will join Delaney, Hickenlooper, Ryan, Bullock, Williamson, Klobuchar, O’Rourke and Buttigieg on July 30.

    Harris and Biden will join Gillibrand, Gabbard, Bennet, de Blasio, Inslee, Booker, Yang and Castro on July 31.

    So, we have Warren vs. Sanders, Beto vs. Buttigieg, and Harris vs. Biden (Rematch). Some possibilities for people going for blood.

    I just wish we could have moved Yang and Williamson to be on the same night. Perhaps in the Year 3000. Ok, maybe not then, because I really want to know which is more powerful: love or $1000/mo.