Bloomberg qualifies for Las Vegas Democratic debate

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg qualified for Wednesday’s debate ahead of Saturday’s caucuses in Nevada, the first debate he will appear in.

Bloomberg qualified Tuesday when the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll showed him with 19 percent support.

Democratic presidential hopefuls have until midnight Tuesday to qualify for the Democratic National Committee’s Wednesday debate in Las Vegas.

Bloomberg will join five other candidates who will be on the ballot Feb. 22 for Nevada’s Democratic caucuses. The are: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Vice President Joe Biden and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and businessman Tom Steyer have yet to qualify. Businessman Andrew Yang, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennett and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick suspended their campaigns after the New Hampshire primary Feb. 11.

The DNC in late January announced new thresholds to qualify for the debate, which will begin at 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time and be broadcast by both NBC and MSNBC. To make the stage, candidates must reach at least 12 percent in two polls or more in Nevada or South Carolina, or at least 10 percent in four polls in those states or national polls.

Candidates could also qualify by gaining at least one delegate in the Iowa caucuses or New Hampshire primary.

Sanders, Warren and Biden have passed both the polling and delegate thresholds, while Buttigieg and Klobuchar qualified via delegates.

The DNC got rid of the individual donor requirement it had used in previous polls.

Bloomberg is self-funding his campaign and not soliciting donations. That fact has prevented him from qualifying for the past few debates, even though he met lower polling thresholds for those events.

Bloomberg is focusing on the March 3 Super Tuesday states and beyond. He has reportedly spent $300 million on advertising in those states.

“We are thrilled that voters could soon have the chance to see Mike Bloomberg on the debate stage, hear his vision for the country and see why he is the strongest candidate to defeat Donald Trump and bring our country together,” said Kevin Sheekey, Bloomberg’s campaign manager, in a statement following the announcement.

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