Outsider presidential candidate Marianne Williamson has qualified to share the stage with other top Democratic candidates when official debates begin next month. The local author, activist, and New Age self-help figure has never held elected office; her previous political experience was an unsuccessful 2014 campaign for the House seat now occupied by Ted Lieu.
Williamson is best known as an author. Her first book, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles, in 1992, scored her a prominent placement on Oprah, which helped catapult it to 39 straight weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Her other books include A Woman’s Worth, in which she offers her vision of female empowerment, Healing the Soul of America, a treatise on political engagement, and her newest, A Politics of Love: A Handbook for a New American Revolution.
In addition to her writing, Williamson has attempted to promote change through the non-profit sector. She launched L.A.’s Center for Living and Project Angel Food to offer support for people living with HIV and AIDS. In 2004, she co–founded another organization, Peace Alliance, which focuses on advocating for the use of federal resources for the promotion of global peace.
When the DNC set rules for 2020 primary debates, they didn’t quite account for how many people might throw their hats in the ring. The debates top out at 20 spots–but there are currently 21 declared candidates in addition to a handful of people still publicly toying with the idea.
In order to qualify, a candidate must poll at 1 percent or higher in at least three legitimate public opinion polls or must have received contributions of campaign funds from 65,000 individuals. Among the 65,000, there must be at least 200 people per state in 20 different states. Williamson crossed the fundraising line on May 9, Politico reports. She has only cleared 1 percent in a single poll.
By meeting the standard, she becomes the 18th person to do so. If more than 20 candidates meet the standard at the time of the debates, the DNC has said they will give preference to those candidates who meet both thresholds. So far, 11 candidates hold that status.