Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

RFK Jr. revs up ballot access campaign in response to sped-up debate criteria

By 37ci3 May17,2024

That was Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s initial reaction to this week’s debate deal between President Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump and CNN. accusing him of “collusion”.. But within hours independent presidential candidate changed his vote: He would try to win a one-month sprint and conquer the milestone to meet CNN’s criteria.

The question is whether both Kennedy’s ballot entry machine and the state government offices that will process his petition signatures can move fast enough to get him on enough state ballots by mid-June to meet the debate criteria, and what is the cable network’s accuracy? The criteria used for decades for the fall presidential debates are considered in a different context at the beginning of the summer.

Kennedy’s campaign has long aimed to get on the ballot in all 50 states by Election Day, but the debate has sped up its schedule because one of the criteria for participation is “being on the ballot in enough states to reach the 270 electoral vote threshold to win.” A week before the debate before the presidential deadline.

Kennedy’s campaign said the candidate and his team called CNN Friday afternoon about the June 27 debate in Atlanta. The campaign did not respond to further questions Friday about what happened during that call. But in the meantime, he’s pushing ahead with plans to qualify for the state’s general election ballots, collecting and turning petition signatures faster than originally expected.

A fresh cash infusion supports the effort. Kennedy’s running mate, Nicole Shanahan, announced during a campaign rally in Nashville on Wednesday that she will donate an additional $8 million to the campaign, which will cover her initial ballot budget. As a candidate on the ticket, he can contribute an unlimited amount of his own funds to the campaign.

Biden and Trump have already agreed to participate in CNN’s debates, bypassing the traditional Commission on Presidential Debates but using criteria very similar to those used by the nonpartisan commission. The main difference: The commission’s debates were always held in the fall, when the general election ballots were drawn up and ready to go before voters.

This time around, Kennedy is still in the middle of his efforts to get on the ballot, running statewide terms scattered throughout the summer. Even Biden and Trump won’t officially secure party nominations and ballot positions at the conventions until June 27, though both are likely candidates once they get through the 2024 primaries. Kennedy campaign director Amarillis Fox Kennedy noted the timing of the convention in a social media post Friday night.

Frank Fahrenkopf, Co-Chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates He told Politico in an interview on Friday Kennedy may have grounds to sue CNN over the debate criteria, though he also noted that the commission has regularly faced lawsuits from third-party candidates over the years, and the candidates have routinely lost. The criteria also included a polling element: at least 15% support in four selective national polls, with Kennedy already hitting that mark in two.

This creates a tougher hurdle for down-ballot Kennedy. His fight to get on the 50-state ballot involves various state deadlines for submitting and verifying signatures. Although Kennedy’s campaign has recommended signature-gathering efforts in many states, it has been officially approved for the ballot in relatively few states, and a sampling of different state regulations shows why speeding up the signature-gathering process doesn’t cut it.

In the crucial state of Arizona, for example, the filing window for independent candidates to turn in petition signatures to get on the ballot doesn’t even begin until July 28, the secretary of state said. It’s been over a month since the CNN presidential debate.

Other states have similar rules, including New Hampshire, where a campaign cannot submit signatures until early to mid-June. It’s unclear how many states have such rules, but even in those that don’t, the ballot is more complicated than gathering the minimum number of signatures required.

In Texas, Kennedy said Monday that his campaign had collected and submitted enough signatures to qualify for the ballot there. But it’s not official yet: Texas’ secretary of state told NBC News that the signatures are still in the process of being verified, with no estimate on how long that will take.

As Kennedy turns in signatures to get on state ballots, he can also expect to face potential problems with those signatures, which could delay getting them officially on the ballot. It’s a relatively common process – but the time limit of the June debate adds a new element of urgency to it. State and national Democratic Party caucuses in Michigan on Friday, for example An investigation was requested from the election officialsly forged signatures On the applications of Republican candidates.

Kennedy is currently on the ballot in six states, including electorally-rich California and battleground Michigan, where he has been nominated by third-party groups, already on the establishment ballot.

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By 37ci3

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