2020 Presidential candidate Andrew Yang has has qualified for the first Democratic debate, currently scheduled to be held in June.
On Monday night, Yang’s campaign passed the grassroots fundraising requirement to qualify, as set out by the Democratic National Committee, with over 66,000 individual donations.
An outsider crashes the Democratic debate stage
Andrew Yang has been running for president since November 2017, making him one of the first official candidates to enter the race.
Despite his early entry, he has regularly been left out of mainstream coverage of the Democratic nomination process. A list of “Top 15” candidates published by the Washington Post in November 2018 did not even mention Yang among the 15 “honorable mentions” not included in the top 15.
Many candidates from the Post’s top 15, like Michael Avanatti and Deval Patrick, have long since dropped out. Yang has meanwhile been quietly building support, largely campaigning beyond the media spotlight.
“It’s pretty clear that Andrew Yang is the story of the 2020 election,” said Campaign Manager Zach Graumann. “He has blown through the 65,000 donor requirement laid out by the DNC, and our goal is to increase that to 100k by the end of the month.
“The Yang Gang has built an army of supporters and small-dollar donors in all 50 states,” he continued, “and they’re excited to see Andrew discuss the Freedom Dividend and human-centered capitalism on the debate stage in June.”
DNC debate requirements
On February 13th the Democratic National Committee announced they would allow any candidate to participate in the debate if they received donations from 65,000 people spread out across at least 20 states.
The fundraising requirement was a departure for the DNC, who had previously relied on polling data to decide who should be included. With the 2020 field shaping up to be one of the biggest in history for a major party nomination, the Democrats decided to take a more inclusive approach this cycle.
“Because campaigns are won on the strength of their grassroots, we… updated the threshold, giving all types of candidates the opportunity to reach the debate stage and giving small-dollar donors a bigger voice in the primary than ever before,” explained DNC Chair Tony Perez.
The first debate, expected to be held in June 2019, will be televised by NBC News, MSNBC, and Telemundo. If more than 20 candidates qualify, the debate will be spread over two nights with slots chosen randomly. The time, location, and exact date have yet to be determined.
Andrew Yang surpasses threshold
Late Monday night, Andrew Yang met the DNC requirements to take part in the June televised debate.
Yang currently has over 66,000 unique donors to his campaign with over 200 unique donors in 40 states. Only twelve days into March, Yang has already raised over $350,000 for the month.
While the Democratic race is crowded, Yang has carved out a unique position for himself as the only candidate promoting a form of Universal Basic Income he calls the “Freedom Dividend.” If elected, Yang hopes to enact a new program which will pay ever American citizen over 18 years old $1,000 per month with no strings attached.
“Most think it’s literally too-good-to-be-true,” Yang told News Growl during an interview in February. “But then they find out that everyone from Thomas Paine to Martin Luther King to Milton Friedman was for it and it passed the House of Representatives twice in 1971. And that it has been in effect in Alaska for 36 years where everyone there gets $1-2,000 per year per person. That wakes them up to the fact that this is a real possibility with a deep American heritage.
“There’s an increasing realization that the economy is rigged against most Americans,” he continued. “So most people, not just Democrats, see a need to change the rules of the economy.”
Yang does more than just talk about the Freedom Dividend. In January he began funding his own pilot Freedom Dividend project. New Hampshire resident Jodie Fassi was selected to receive $1,000 per month for all of 2019, paid for out of Yang’s own pocket.
But the Freedom Dividend is not the only program of Yang’s that has received an enthusiastic response.
“To bring the country together I would give everyone an HBO GO password so we could all watch Game of Thrones,” he tweeted last week. The tweet, even if not a serious proposal, has over 2,500 retweets and nearly 13,000 likes.
If nothing else, the outsider candidate has an eye for a popular policy proposal.