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Presidential candidate Ryan has chance to strut his stuff Sunday

By David Skolnick

Friday, May 31, 2019

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan gets a huge moment for his presidential campaign Sunday with a town hall on CNN.

Ryan of Howland, D-13th, has to gain momentum from the appearance if his campaign is to take off.

It’s still very early in the race, but Ryan needs to see improvement in polls – his range is 0 percent to 2 percent – and in fundraising. He said he’s more focused on polling than fundraising, but he needs to do better with both if he’s to continue his campaign.

That’s because fundraising is going to be vital for candidates to get on the debate stage. If Ryan fails to qualify for the Democratic presidential debates, his longshot candidacy become a no-shot candidacy.

Ryan looks safe to appear at the first debate in Miami on June 26 and 27. There are so many candidates that the debate is being held over two nights with 10 candidates for each day.

There’s a low threshold to qualify.

A candidate needs to have at least 1 percent support in three qualifying polls. Ryan has done that with 1 percent support in Monmouth University’s polls of Iowa Democrats, 1 percent in the national Reuters/Ipsos poll, and 2 percent in the University of New Hampshire’s poll of that state’s Democrats.

The other way to qualify is more challenging: at least 65,000 unique donors with a minimum of 200 different donors in at least 20 states.

Ryan isn’t saying how many donors he has.

His campaign recently has sent a number of emails seeking donations to “protect my spot at the debate and keep me on the road connecting with Americans nationwide.”

Currently, 20 of the 24 declared Democratic candidates qualify for the first debate.

If more than 20 qualify, the top 20 will be chosen by a method that rewards candidates for meeting both thresholds – there are nine that currently do so – followed by highest polling average and then the most unique donors.

“If you get both, you get preference,” Ryan said. “Right now we’re making it on the polling so send me a buck or 2 or 5.”

Ryan is likely safe for the first debate as well as the second one on July 30 and 31 in Detroit.

But new rules for the next round of primary debates could spell big trouble for Ryan and others with low polling numbers and not enough donors.

The Democratic National Committee announced changes Wednesday to qualify for the third debate Sept. 12 and 13, the latter date is needed if more than 10 are eligible, and a fourth in October. The locations of the September and October debates and the date of the October event haven’t been released.

The changes greatly impact Ryan.

Higher bar

To qualify for the third and fourth debates, a candidate needs at least 2 percent support in four qualifying polls between June 28 and Aug. 28 and contributions from at least 130,000 unique donors with a minimum of 400 different donors in at least 20 states by Aug. 28.

If you don’t have both, you won’t qualify for the third and fourth debates.

If you’re not on the debate stage, your chances of being the presidential nominee are nil.

To reach both is going to be a huge challenge for not only Ryan, but for all of the lesser-known candidates.

Ryan said he’s hired about six or seven staff members for his campaign who are working on fundraising and digital media as well as those who are exclusively in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first presidential caucus and primary states, respectively.

“It’s a mistake to blow money on a staff of 30 to 40 people,” he said.

Missed votes

While campaigning for president, Ryan has missed a lot of votes in the House. As I reported last week, he’s missed almost one-third of votes taken so far this year – the third most of any House member.

When I asked him to explain, Ryan said, “I’m going to have to miss a couple of votes to make [the presidential campaign] happen. I’m going to make a good run at this and potentially win this. It comes with some sacrifice and I’m going to miss some votes. But I’m bringing money back to our community and doing the work that needs to be done.”

Ryan said he’s “doing this for all of us who’ve watched this economic train wreck. We’re still doing our job. I’m trying to grow the economy and I’ve brought back millions of dollars.”

He also said: “If I have to miss a few votes along the way – and there will be people who criticize me – talk to the people at the incubator or America Makes and they’ll tell you I’m doing everything I can to grow jobs.”