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Steyer backers call on DNC to ease requirements to appear on debate stage

Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer are calling on the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to ease its debate criteria to allow the billionaire environmental activist on the debate stage Wednesday night in Las Vegas.

Two dozen people who have endorsed Steyer in South Carolina wrote a letter to DNC Chairman Tom Perez urging the national party organization to ease its requirements for the debate in Nevada. Steyer is not expected to make the cut for the debate, though former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg is expected to appear.

The DNC’s deadline to meet the requirements for the debate is Tuesday night.

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“We are extremely concerned that the qualification criteria for the next DNC debate in Las Vegas Wednesday night will effectively silence the voices of Nevadans and South Carolinians, the first two truly diverse states to participate in this pivotal election,” reads the letter signed by 24 Steyer endorsers in South Carolina.

The statement comes after reports that Bloomberg, another billionaire candidate in the race, likely qualified for the Las Vegas debate, the first forum he’s participated in since he began his campaign in November.

“The number of qualifying polls and breathless media coverage of those polls in Iowa and New Hampshire is not lost on us,” the letter from Steyer supporters continued. “It would be a shame if the same amount of attention and polling was not paid to the next two early states.”

In order to qualify for the debate, candidates need to hit 10 percent support in four polls approved by the DNC, reach 12 percent in two polls in Nevada or South Carolina, or win at least one delegate from an early primary state to the national convention. Steyer only has one poll in his favor and no delegates from Iowa or New Hampshire, the first two states to hold voting in the Democratic race.

Though Steyer is not likely to make the Wednesday night debate, he still has the opportunity to make the South Carolina debate on Feb. 24, which has virtually the same criteria but gives Steyer time to obtain delegates in Nevada or improve in polls. 

A recent poll by the Las Vegas Review Journal showed Steyer at 11 percent support in Nevada ahead of the caucuses on Saturday.

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