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TV Critic’s Corner

Will third Democratic debate be a two-parter?

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are among nine qualifiers so far for debate No. 3.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are among nine qualifiers so far for debate No. 3.(JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

The third Democratic debate is set for Thursday, Sept. 12 — and also, perhaps, if we’re unlucky, Friday, Sept. 13. The Democratic National Committee has said that the maximum number of candidates for one night is 10, and it’s possible at least 11 of the two dozen or so candidates will qualify.

So far, according to the site FiveThirtyEight, nine have already made it to the stage for No. 3, which will air on ABC: Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Yang, Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker, and Amy Klobuchar. And one — Julián Castro — is close, having already met the donor requirement and in need of only one more poll to qualify.

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Three other candidates — Tulsi Gabbard, Tom Steyer, and Kirsten Gillibrand — stand a chance, even though the polling and donor requirements are a bit tougher this time around. Inevitably, some of the candidates who don’t make it to the stage for the third debate will drop out of the race.

I’m looking forward to the point when the people on the stage can actually push one another beyond quips and comebacks. I’m eager to concentrate on the truly viable candidates, much as some of the fringe folks have been entertaining. The winnowing down and the focusing in will be quite satisfying.


Matthew Gilbert can be reached at gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.