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Pro-impeachment billionaire Tom Steyer spends his way over major hurdle to third Dem debates

'We're kidding ourselves if we're calling a $10 million purchase of 130,000 donors a demonstration of grassroots support'

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A deep-pocketed presidential hopeful and fervent proponent of impeaching President Donald Trump announced a big step forward for his Democratic primary campaign on Tuesday.

In an announcement Tuesday morning, progressive billionaire Tom Steyer said that he had reached the requirement of at least 130,000 individual campaign donors in order to qualify for the September debates in Texas.

"Thanks to all who've contributed even $1 to this movement," Steyer added. "We can't do this without you."

The only remaining qualification for Steyer to appear onstage alongside the other presidential hopefuls is to clear more than 2 percent in one more qualifying poll, as he already has done so in three of the required four.

Steyer, who has pledged to spend $100 million of his own money on his presidential campaign, has been criticized for his efforts to spend his way onto the debate stage. Since announcing his candidacy in early July, Steyer has spent millions on television and digital ads, according to federal records.

The main point of many of those ads was to encourage people to give $1 to his campaign, thereby boosting his individual donor numbers.

"The Democratic primary should not be decided by billionaires, whether they're funding Super PACs or funding themselves," Democratic contender and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) said after Steyer announced his run. "The strongest Democratic nominee in the general will have a coalition that's powered by a grassroots movement."

After Steyer's Tuesday announcement, current presidential hopeful and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock issued a scathing statement criticizing the individual donor threshold.

"We're kidding ourselves if we're calling a $10 million purchase of 130,000 donors a demonstration of grassroots support," Bullock said. "It's not serving the candidates, and it sure isn't helping the voters who will actually decide this elections."

Bullock made the second round of primary debates but is currently struggling to meet the requirements for the third round. After his last debate appearance, Bullock was the most searched candidate in his home state.

Steyer, a longtime progressive activist and megadonor, has previously put his efforts behind impeaching President Trump and even pledged $30 million to help Democrats take back the House of Representatives in the 2018 election cycle. He said earlier this year that he planned to spend another $40 million on his "Need to Impeach" campaign against the president.

One last thing…
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