By George “Washington” Thomas, Political Reporter

Simi Valley will be the center of the political universe this Wednesday night as the GOP Presidential contenders discuss and debate Donald Trump, Immigration, the war in Ukraine, and Ronald Reagan.

SIMI VALLEY, CA – The biggest political story coming out of Simi Valley this week will be that one candidate will be conspicuously absent from this second Presidential debate. Former President Donald Trump, who is enjoying a double-digit lead in the polls over his closest rivals, will be in Detroit with striking autoworkers discussing the economy.

In the 2016 election cycle, then candidate Trump attended the debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Fast forward seven years and the former President has made the decision to skip the debates during the primary season but did verbally commit to debate President Joe Biden in the general election season should he secure the GOP nomination.

The final list of candidates will be released late Monday night before the Wednesday showdown in Southern California. The threshold to qualify for the debate includes polling above 3% nationwide, having over 50,000 unique donors from at least 20 different states or territories, and pledging to support the eventual nominee regardless of pending investigations or trials.

Former President Trump’s closest rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has experienced a less than robust showing in launching his campaign for President. Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been the most vocal critic of Trump and has yet to garner major traction in his campaign for the highest office in the land.

This has been the ongoing story for all of the candidates, making the race for the Republican nomination in 2024 one of the most unique in modern American history. The silver lining story is South Carolina’s Nikki Haley, who was the governor of that state as well as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations and has slowly climbed up in the polls since the last Republican debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Former Vice President Mike Pence has also been in a somber rut, not being able to break away from the pack. Entrepreneur and pharmaceutical CEO Vivek Ramaswamy, the youngest and most entertaining on the debate stage, has been a Trump cheerleader of sorts. Some inside the beltway have pontificated that his campaign might actually be for Vice President and running with Trump on the ticket during the general election. South Carolina also has Senator Tim Scott as a candidate for the GOP nomination, which is an early primary state and helped secure the Democratic nomination for then candidate Joe Biden in 2020. Given the schedule of early primary states, including Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, being from a state that has their elections early in the process can make all the difference in the contest.

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgam is on the cusp of qualifying, and the Republican National Committee (RNC) will make the final announcement of who has made the debate state on Monday, September 25th, 2023.

The Iowa Caucuses start on January 15th, 2024, and this is the first contest where a candidate can secure delegates and their support at the nominating convention. Fox Business is sponsoring the debate, along with the Ronal Reagan Foundation and Univision. The two-hour debate starts at 6pm Pacific time on Wednesday the 27th of September. (Van Nuys News Press staff contributed to this report).

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