Democrats will have a dozen presidential primary debates to pick their presidential nominee, the Democratic National Committee announced Thursday, with the first debate scheduled next June.
The debates will occur on a monthly basis in 2019, with a pause in August. Six more will take place between January and April 2020. That’s three more than Democrats held in 2016, when front-runner Hillary Clinton and her allies at the DNC pushed for a limited debate schedule.
“My goal in this framework is to give the grassroots a bigger voice than ever before; to showcase our candidates on an array of media platforms; to present opportunity for vigorous discussion about issues, ideas and solutions; and to reach as many potential voters as possible,” DNC Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement announcing the schedule. “That is how we will put our nominee in the strongest position possible to defeat Donald Trump, and how we will help elect Democrats up and down the ballot.”
The schedule comes after Perez met with stakeholders from all corners of the party in order to try to avoid the controversy that built up around the schedule in 2016, when allies of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) accused the DNC of putting its thumb on the scale for Clinton.
This seems to have appeased most people within the party, though a separate fight over how Democrats will share data and voter information is currently roiling the DNC.
Democrats expect a very crowded presidential field this election, with dozens of candidates mulling runs and many expected to announce campaigns early in the new year. As the schedule makes clear, the 2020 presidential election is already here.