The next Democratic presidential debate is coming tonight. Unlike the last two, it will only be one night, and will only feature ten candidates. Four also-ran candidates have dropped out of the race since the debates started, and several others did not qualify for Thursday.
Here is a look at some interesting facts surrounding eight candidates who will not be featured on tonight’s stage.
1. Kirsten Gillibrand
New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand became the most recent Democrat to leave the race after she didn’t make it into the next debate.
What is less well-known than candidates answering in Spanish in the CNN debate, is that Gillibrand speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese. As an undergraduate at Dartmouth, she majored in Asian Studies and studied in Beijing and Taiwan. She later worked as a trial lawyer in Hong Kong, the New York Times reported. This election season, videos appeared of Gillibrand talking to reporters in Mandarin.
2. John Hickenlooper
For someone who didn’t get much attention this election, Colorado’s former governor, John Hickenlooper, Jr., is an interesting character.
The corny political commercials he starred in as mayor of Denver and governor showcase his affable, quirky personality. They include this one where he has a belt-fed change maker, this one shot while skydiving, and this one, in which he showers fully dressed.
Oh, and this one:
3. Eric Swalwell
California Congressman Eric Swalwell, Jr. became the first major candidate to drop out less than two weeks after his appearance in the first debate.
Today, the candidate is known for his harsh pro-gun-control positions. But he got his start in the House in 2012 by unseating four-decade incumbent Pete Stark. During the election, the fellow Democrat refused to debate Swalwell because, he told ABC-7 San Francisco, “We’d only get stupid questions […] that have nothing to do with issues.”
In response, Swalwell shot a 12-minute satirical YouTube video. Swalwell’s video shows him debating an actor playing Stark, complete with fake gray hair and eyebrows.
4. Bill de Blasio
Bill de Blasio, the socialist New York mayor, did not get much traction in his presidential bid. It looks like he may soon drop out, according to the New York Times.
At his birth, the candidate was named Warren Wilhelm, Jr., but after his parents divorced, he took his mother’s maiden name, de Blasio. He later changed his name to his nickname, Bill.
5. Tulsi Gabbard
Major Tulsi Gabbard, a representative from Hawaii, was the most-googled candidate after the first two debates, but did not make the cut for this one. Voters know her for her service in the Iraq war and her anti-interventionist positions on foreign policy. Gabbard is also the first Hindu member of Congress, and the first to be sworn in on the religion’s Bhagavad Gita, according to the Huffington Post.
But Gabbard and her family also have ties to the Science of Identity Foundation. The group is a Hare Krishna offshoot started by Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa (birth name Chris Butler). A 2017 New Yorker profile said that “Some former members [of Butler’s group] portray themselves as survivors of an abusive cult.”
As a child, Gabbard spent two years in the Philippines learning from Butler’s followers. However, it is unclear if she still follows his teachings. She told the New Yorker that the spiritual movement was not how it has been portrayed.
“I’ve never heard him say anything hateful, or say anything mean about anybody,” she said. “I can speak to my own personal experience and, frankly, my gratitude to him, for the gift of this wonderful spiritual practice that he has given to me, and to so many people.”
6. Marianne Williamson
Marianne Williamson got a lot of attention in previous debates for saying she will combat President Donald Trump’s “dark psychic force” and tell New Zealand’s prime minister, “Girlfriend, you are so on.” However, the new-age author, activist, and nonprofit founder did not meet the qualifications for Thursday’s debate.
Many know about Williamson’s friendship with Oprah Winfrey. But she also has ties with other celebrities. At Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch in 1991, Williamson officiated actress Elizabeth Tyler’s eighth wedding.
When Williamson ran for Congress in 2014, Kim Kardashian West, CNN anchor Van Jones, and former wrestler and Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura supported her campaign. Alanis Morissette recorded a campaign song for Williamson, as well.
7. Tim Ryan
Politicians often write books, but Representative from Ohio Tim Ryan wrote one on an interesting topic: meditation.
Besides his 2012 book “A Mindful Nation,” Ryan’s practice of mindfulness meditation has also translated into his work in Congress. He is known for creating the “Quiet Time Caucus” for congressmen and staffers to meditate together. He also worked on policies related to meditation in healthcare and education.
Ryan also wrote about healthy, eco-friendly eating in “The Real Food Revolution.”
8. Michael Bennet
Senator from Colorado Michael Bennet hasn’t made much of a splash this campaign. However, it is of note that he is the only major candidate born outside the U.S., and one of only five incumbent foreign-born senators. Bennet was born in New Delhi in 1964, where his father was working for the U.S. Ambassador to India. Bennet grew up in Washington, D.C. before he moved to Colorado.