Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg has surpassed $200 million in ad spending after only having been in the race for two months, ABC News reports.
According to the report, Bloomberg, a former New York City Mayor, has far out-spent all other Democratic candidates. All other candidates have spent $250 million combined, including fellow billionaire Tom Steyer’s $141 million spent in ads.
ABC News describes other candidates are taking note of the spending and are beginning to claim the election is being “hacked by billionaires.”
When former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro dropped from the presidential election, Senator Cory Booker complained candidates were disadvantaged by the heavy spending.
“This is a problem for our party that incredibly talented people like Julian Castro are dropping out because of money, because we’re basing a — we should all talk about the fact that we are in a nation where money is corrupting our politics,” Booker said. “So why should the democratic party design a system that can be so easily hacked by billionaires?”
Despite the spending, rules set by the Democratic National Committee prevents Bloomberg from joining the last presidential primary debate in January.
Bloomberg did not meet enough qualifying polls in early states, claiming he is focusing his efforts on winning big on Super Tuesday when multiple states hold their primary elections on the same day. Steyer, having garnered 12 percent of Democratic voters in a Fox News Nevada poll and 15 percent in a Fox News South Carolina poll, meet the necessary qualifications to attend the debate.
In addition to Steyer, ABC News reports the debate will feature: former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar.
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According to the report, candidates had until 11:59 pm on Friday to qualify for the debate:
Steyer has spent nearly $80 million on television advertising since entering the race in July, second only to the other billionaire in the race, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, according to ad data analysis from CMAG. In Nevada alone, between the Las Vegas and Reno markets, he’s spent $8.7 million on TV ads. In South Carolina, across four markets, he’s spent $8.4 million.
By comparison, Sanders, the Democratic candidate who has spent the third most on TV advertising during the campaign, has spent nearly $6.5 million on TV ads in total, according to CMAG’s data.
Unless at least two more polls drop in the hours ahead of the deadline to qualify — 11:59 p.m. Friday — no other candidates have much of a shot at qualifying for the debate, meaning every qualifying candidate will be white.
Businessman Andrew Yang, who is Asian American, was the lone candidate of color on stage for December’s debate. He hit the polling threshold just two days before the qualifying deadline, but his chances look much slimmer this time around.