The Democratic race is set to start in earnest

Get the popcorn ready. The race for the Democrat Party's presidential nomination is set to begin in earnest. The first debate is only two weeks away. It's set for June 26-27. Here is the full debate schedule

  • June 26-27 in Miami hosted by NBC, MSNBC, and Telemundo
  • July 30-31 in Detroit moderated by CNN
  • September 12-13 with the location to be determined and hosted by ABC News.

After September, there will be one debate every month until April 2020, with the specific locations and dates to be determine.

To participate in the first two debates, a candidate must do one of two things: poll at 1 percent in at least three surveys or receive donations from 65,000 people across various states. The polling requirements must be national in scope or conducted in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, or Nevada. Also, the polls results must be publicly released between January 1, 2019 and 14 days before the debate.

Candidates need to have received contributions from a minimum of 65,000 unique donors, and those donations must come from at least 20 states with each state having at least 200 unique donors.

After the first two debates, the requirements to participate get tighter. There's no need to go into detail -- suffice to say that the idea is to weed out the weak to narrow down the field.

To date, 20 candidates have qualified for the initial debates -- 19 Democrats and one card-carrying socialist, Bernie Sanders. Here is the full list. Of these, all but five have meet both the polling and donation requirements.

Many expect the debates to be filled with fireworks. Will the field of candidates rip into front-runner, old Joe Biden, for what is now perceived as his insufficient progressive record and his corrupt family dealings with China and the Ukraine? How far will some of the candidates go to get to the left of Crazy Bernie? Will the candidates be performing for their base of fellow progressives by touting ideas like impeaching the president, bashing Israel, promoting the New Green Deal, Medicare for All, and free college tuition. Or will they tone down their rhetoric and attempt to appeal to the general public? This could be entertaining as the debaters look to put lipstick on a pig. 

Others think these debates, at least the initial ones, will be rather dull and boring. The belief in this quarter is the air will be filled with meaningless platitudes while the participants twist their answers to every question into the same-old attacks on Donald Trump. Since the moderators are all from the left-wing media and share the same objective as the debaters -- defeating Trump is 2020 -- expect them to go easy with their questions and not press embarrassing issues. 

Whichever scenario plays out, these debates are not happening in a vacuum. This is not Las Vegas, and what is said on the debate stage will not stay there. The best-laid plans of the Democratic National Committee and the spinners in the media can be turned upside down by just a Trump  tweet or two. The president is not a shrinking violet who is content to sit on his hands. When Trump can make fools out of his opponents, he will. And here he will have a target-rich environment. The debates themselves will not likely have a large viewership, but the analysis and withering critique from talk radio and the conservative blogosphere will. 

Right now Joe Biden has a commanding lead in the polls followed by Crazy Bernie and then Elizabeth Warren.

Still, it is hard seeing a person like Biden who carries more baggage than a mule train surviving the primaries. But if not him, then who? And if any of this crop of Democrat candidates fail to catch fire, could Hillary waddle back onto the scene? Or Oprah or Michelle? It is truly a confusing picture. 

We can all say who we think will be on the Democrat ticket, but not with any confidence. Since it's free to speculate, I'll guess the Democrats will go with Sanders-Harris.

Get the popcorn ready. The race for the Democrat Party's presidential nomination is set to begin in earnest. The first debate is only two weeks away. It's set for June 26-27. Here is the full debate schedule

  • June 26-27 in Miami hosted by NBC, MSNBC, and Telemundo
  • July 30-31 in Detroit moderated by CNN
  • September 12-13 with the location to be determined and hosted by ABC News.

After September, there will be one debate every month until April 2020, with the specific locations and dates to be determine.

To participate in the first two debates, a candidate must do one of two things: poll at 1 percent in at least three surveys or receive donations from 65,000 people across various states. The polling requirements must be national in scope or conducted in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, or Nevada. Also, the polls results must be publicly released between January 1, 2019 and 14 days before the debate.

Candidates need to have received contributions from a minimum of 65,000 unique donors, and those donations must come from at least 20 states with each state having at least 200 unique donors.

After the first two debates, the requirements to participate get tighter. There's no need to go into detail -- suffice to say that the idea is to weed out the weak to narrow down the field.

To date, 20 candidates have qualified for the initial debates -- 19 Democrats and one card-carrying socialist, Bernie Sanders. Here is the full list. Of these, all but five have meet both the polling and donation requirements.

Many expect the debates to be filled with fireworks. Will the field of candidates rip into front-runner, old Joe Biden, for what is now perceived as his insufficient progressive record and his corrupt family dealings with China and the Ukraine? How far will some of the candidates go to get to the left of Crazy Bernie? Will the candidates be performing for their base of fellow progressives by touting ideas like impeaching the president, bashing Israel, promoting the New Green Deal, Medicare for All, and free college tuition. Or will they tone down their rhetoric and attempt to appeal to the general public? This could be entertaining as the debaters look to put lipstick on a pig. 

Others think these debates, at least the initial ones, will be rather dull and boring. The belief in this quarter is the air will be filled with meaningless platitudes while the participants twist their answers to every question into the same-old attacks on Donald Trump. Since the moderators are all from the left-wing media and share the same objective as the debaters -- defeating Trump is 2020 -- expect them to go easy with their questions and not press embarrassing issues. 

Whichever scenario plays out, these debates are not happening in a vacuum. This is not Las Vegas, and what is said on the debate stage will not stay there. The best-laid plans of the Democratic National Committee and the spinners in the media can be turned upside down by just a Trump  tweet or two. The president is not a shrinking violet who is content to sit on his hands. When Trump can make fools out of his opponents, he will. And here he will have a target-rich environment. The debates themselves will not likely have a large viewership, but the analysis and withering critique from talk radio and the conservative blogosphere will. 

Right now Joe Biden has a commanding lead in the polls followed by Crazy Bernie and then Elizabeth Warren.

Still, it is hard seeing a person like Biden who carries more baggage than a mule train surviving the primaries. But if not him, then who? And if any of this crop of Democrat candidates fail to catch fire, could Hillary waddle back onto the scene? Or Oprah or Michelle? It is truly a confusing picture. 

We can all say who we think will be on the Democrat ticket, but not with any confidence. Since it's free to speculate, I'll guess the Democrats will go with Sanders-Harris.