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Tom Steyer says he should qualify for Democratic debate

Democratic presidential hopeful Tom Steyer has not qualified for the debate scheduled for Wednesday in Las Vegas, and he decried a lack of qualifying polls in Nevada and South Carolina, where he said his internal polls have him in second or third place.

“There’s not been a single poll in Nevada or South Carolina,” Steyer said in an interview with the Review-Journal. “And I believe I would qualify easily in both. Someone has to run a poll that counts. It’s very frustrating to think that we think we’re at a multiple of where we need to be, and no one’s run a poll. We think we’re in second or third (in both states).”

The Review-Journal, in partnership with AARP Nevada, published a poll Friday at reviewjournal.com that shows Steyer finishing in fourth place in the state with 11 percent support from likely caucusgoers. But that poll doesn’t automatically qualify under rules set down by the Democratic National Committee.

Steyer maintains he could qualify for the debate under the fundraising/polling rules, but he can’t prove it without a qualifying poll. Under the rules, the DNC requires four Nevada, South Carolina or national poll results showing a candidate with at least 10 percent support to qualify for the debate, or two 12 percent finishes in Nevada and/or South Carolina.

Currently, five candidates have qualified: Former Vice President Joe Biden; Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar; and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Like Steyer, all of these candidates are currently campaigning in Nevada.

Asked what he planned to do if left off the stage next week, Steyer — who has been actively campaigning in Nevada for several months and is fresh off a cross-state bus tour — said he expects to qualify.

Steyer said he plans to do well in Nevada and South Carolina, which he believes will open voters’ eyes to the strength of his programs and his ability to appeal to diversity within the Democratic Party.

Asked if he would leave the race or make changes if he didn’t do well in the Nevada caucuses on Feb. 22, the South Carolina primary on Feb. 29 and the March 3 Super Tuesday states, Steyer said he anticipates he will be the “odds-on favorite” in the race at that point.

Contact Rory Appleton at RAppleton@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0276. Follow @RoryDoesPhonics on Twitter.

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