The field is set, the venue is secured, and Democrats are ready to take the stage Thursday night for their sixth debate of the 2020 presidential cycle.
But as of this past weekend, it wasn’t even clear the event would take place at all.
Thursday night’s debate will be hosted by Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles with seven Democratic contenders set to face off for the final debate of 2019. The debate will air at 8 p.m. on PBS and CNN. It will also be streamed across numerous platforms.
The qualifying Democrats are former Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, billionaire hedge fund manager Tom Steyer and former tech executive Andrew Yang.
The debate was originally set to be held at UCLA. But a labor dispute between the school and its employees prompted Democrats to move the event.
Some UCLA employees have called for boycotts of speakers at the school in an effort to push visitors from utilizing UCLA as a platform until those employees’ demands were met. In early November, the Democrats assented to those requests.
Fast forward a month to a near-repeat scenario at Loyola Marymount.
Workers for Sodexo, a food service company utilized by Loyola Marymount, had been negotiating for a month for a new contract. When those talks fell apart late last week, Democratic presidential candidates began announcing they would not “cross the picket line” and show up for the debate until those workers received a new contract.
All seven candidates who qualified for Thursday’s debate threatened to skip out entirely. But those concerns were assuaged Tuesday when Loyola Marymount and Sodexo workers agreed to terms on a new deal.
To appear at the debate, candidates had to meet polling and fundraising requirements set by the Democratic National Committee.
To meet the polling threshold, candidates could either earn 4% support in four national or early-state polls or garner 6% support in two early-state polls. Those polls must be surveys approved by the DNC.
The fundraising requirement mandated candidates receive donations from 200,000 unique donors overall as well as 800 donors or more from 20 distinct states or territories.
Previous debates have featured as many as 12 candidates on stage at once, with some being spread over two nights, thanks to a field that ballooned to more than 20 candidates at various times throughout the primary.
But the DNC has slowly upped the requirements to appear on the debate stage, making this event the most compact yet.
Thursday’s debate will be hosted by PBS NewsHour and POLITICO. Judy Woodruff, Amna Nawaz and Yamiche Alcindor of PBS will serve as moderators. POLITICO’s Tim Alberta will also be on the panel.