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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee part of Democratic presidential debate on first night

Gov. Jay Inslee will join nine other Democratic presidential hopefuls in the first night of nationally televised debates later this month, but neither of the two leading candidates for his party’s nomination will be in the same field.

The day after announcing Inslee was among the 20 candidates qualifying for the officially sanctioned Democratic National Committee debates on June 26 and 27, the drawing Friday for the two forums put him in the first one. The debates, in Miami, will be televised by NBC.

He’ll share the stage with U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar, U.S. Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Tim Ryan, former U.S. Reps. Beto O’Rourke and John Delaney, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, the two candidates with the highest numbers in most polls, will be in the debate on the second night, with Sens. Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand and Michael Bennet, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Rep. Eric Swalwell, former Gov. John Hickenlooper, author Marianne Williamson and businessman Andrew Yang.

Biden is running first in all polls of Democratic voters, with either Sanders or Warren in second place. Buttigieg and Harris are usually in fourth or fifth place, with all other candidates – including Inslee – trailing with a few percentage points, if they register at all.

The Democratic Committee said the lineups were selected at random, but with a way to ensure that all candidates at or near the top of polls aren’t on a single night. Names were drawn from two boxes – those polling above 2% and those below that level.

To qualify for the debates, candidates had to reach a threshold of at least a 1% showing in public opinion polls approved by the national committee and a minimum of 65,000 individual donors to their campaigns.

Although the Inslee campaign had been saying for weeks it had met both thresholds, manager Aisling Kerins said Thursday night’s announcement by the committee qualified as “a huge victory for our upstart campaign.”

While the qualifications are relatively low for a candidate hoping to capture the White House in a little more than a year, some Democrats actively campaigning did not meet them, including Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and former Sen. Mike Gavel of Alaska.

A second round of debates is scheduled for July 30 and 31 in Detroit.

For a third round, in September, the Democratic National Committee will require at least a 2% showing in an accepted poll and twice as many individual donors – 130,000 – to qualify.

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