2020 Primaries Start in February. The Window for New Candidates Closes Earlier.
Michael R. Bloomberg’s renewed flirtation with a presidential campaign, less than three months before the Iowa caucuses, has brought back a perennial question: How late is too late?
The first votes will not be cast until Feb. 3, but to appear on ballots, candidates must file their paperwork long before then. How long before? Well, the first filing deadline is … today.
To appear on the primary ballot in Alabama, Mr. Bloomberg must submit a petition with at least 500 signatures — or seven petitions with at least 50 signatures from each of the state’s seven congressional districts — by the end of Friday. He has sent staff members to Alabama to collect those signatures.
Two more states — Arkansas and, crucially, New Hampshire — have filing deadlines in the next eight days. People who plan to run for president in 2020 will almost certainly file for New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary, given the outsized political spotlight and news media attention on that early voting state.
Here’s the list of deadlines through the end of the year, with one caveat: In a handful of states, the political parties set their own filing deadlines, and those dates may not be included in this list.
Alabama: Nov. 8
Arkansas: Nov. 11
New Hampshire: Nov. 15
California: Nov. 26
Florida: Nov. 30*
*This is the deadline for state parties to submit their candidate lists to the secretary of state. The deadline for candidates to file with the party is up to party officials.
Tennessee: Dec. 3
Oklahoma: Dec. 4
Arizona: Dec. 9
Colorado: Dec. 9
Idaho: Dec. 11
Louisiana: Dec. 11
Virginia: Dec. 12
Michigan: Dec. 13
Vermont: Dec. 16
Ohio: Dec. 18
Missouri: Dec. 24
North Carolina: Dec. 27
One more detail: Because Iowa holds caucuses, not a primary with a standardized ballot, it has no filing deadline.
But ballot access is not the only obstacle for a candidate entering this late in the game. There is also the matter of debate qualifications.
If Mr. Bloomberg does enter the race, it will be next to impossible for him to make the next debate, which is scheduled for Nov. 20. The qualification deadline is just six days away, and he would need 165,000 donors and four polls showing him at 3 percent or higher. (He could also qualify with 5 percent showings in two early-state polls.)
For the December debate, he would need 200,000 unique donors and four polls showing him at 4 percent or higher (or two early-state polls at 6 percent). Only six candidates have managed to meet those criteria so far, and Mr. Bloomberg would have only about a month to do it.
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