WASHINGTON | DNC chair: 2 stages, 16 spots for first 2 Democratic debates

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Democratic Party’s first two presidential debates will have two stages for a total of up to 16 participants.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez disclosed the new details Wednesday night at a party fundraiser in Washington ahead of the DNC’s winter meeting.

It was the first time he’d confirmed how many slots would be available for the growing 2020 field that already includes a gaggle of senators.

The first debates will take place in June and July.

Perez has confirmed previously that he’d “draw lots” to assign candidates to the two stages rather than separate perceived leaders from a second tier.

Perez told The Associated Press earlier Wednesday that he wants to announce the qualification threshold for the first two debates and the media partners by week’s end.

By BILL BARROW , Associated Press