Mon. Jul 15th, 2024

RFK Jr. is on track to miss the CNN debate amid race to get on state ballots

By 37ci3 Jun19,2024

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy appears unlikely to attend CNN’s presidential debates. That leaves ABC News’ September debate as a great chance to join President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump on stage after the deadline expires this week.

Kennedy has fallen short of CNN’s 15% poll threshold in at least four verified national polls, with just three so far. But more critically, Kennedy is almost certain to fall short of the network’s ballot access criteria, as securing access in enough states to win 270 electoral votes is a Herculean task for a non-major party candidate at this early point in the election calendar. What’s more, Kennedy’s campaign did not file ballot-access applications as quickly as needed to secure ballots before the June 20 deadline — though it is clearly taking steps to accommodate the next debate in the fall.

That means Kennedy will be watching the Biden-Trump debate from the sidelines next Thursday, depriving her of earned media independence and a chance to boost her long-term campaign. Instead, Kennedy seems willing to use his inaction to claim the campaign was rigged against political outsiders. His campaign booked $100,000 in national television advertising on the day of the debate.

Last month, Kennedy’s campaign a Complaint by the Federal Election Commission v. CNN, the Biden and Trump campaigns, alleging that the way they set up the June 27 presidential debate was illegal. Campaign spokeswoman Stefanie Spear said they were “considering” additional legal action ahead of debate night.

Kennedy faces an uphill battle to get on the ballot in all 50 states ahead of November, but at a campaign event this weekend in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he said he will be on “the ballot across the country in four weeks. ”

An independent candidate has already qualified for the ballot in nine states representing 139 electoral votes, according to an NBC News analysis and interviews with state officials. His campaign says he has also collected enough signatures to exceed the requirement set by CNN’s criteria, but in many cases the signatures have not been formally submitted for verification, a process that can take weeks (if not longer). In some states, the windows for submitting these signatures are not yet open. So the window for debate closes on Kennedy, pending any last-minute legal action by state bureaucrats.

For example, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota secretary of state’s office confirmed to NBC News that Kennedy and running mate Nicole Shanahan received their nominations on June 7. ten working days to review and verify the application. Due to the upcoming state holiday on June 19, we need to complete this work by June 24.”

There are other problems in the states where he signed. Officials with the New York Board of Elections said they filed 13 objections to Kennedy’s petitions, though only six of them were followed up. Those objections are still in the process of being resolved, but in the meantime, the office noted, no candidate is officially on the New York ballot until approved by the state Board of Election Commissioners later this summer.

Meanwhile, in Texas, Kennedy is still waiting for word from the secretary of state on the review.

The secretary of state said he also faces a tough reality in battleground states like Arizona, where the filing window for independent candidates to turn in petition signatures to get on the ballot doesn’t begin until July 28. It’s been more than a month since CNN’s debate, not the network’s deadline.

Kennedy’s attempt to get on the ballot in Nevada was thwarted when a member of the secretary of state’s office incorrectly told the campaign that he could file without his running mate’s name. He was later told that the state required the nominations to be included in the applications and his applications were canceled as a result Kennedy’s appeal to the court against the state.

Emails obtained by NBC News revealed that the campaign resubmitted its signature petition last week with Shanahan’s name attached. That puts Kennedy’s campaign up against a short July 5 deadline to collect more than 10,000 signatures.

Kennedy’s next chance to qualify for the debate stage will be on Sept. 10, when ABC News hosts the next presidential debate. This debate has the same ballot access and voting criteria as CNN, although it is unclear whether the voting window will open for ABC News’ criteria.

So while Kennedy may struggle to get the ballot he needs by June, he is in a better position to do so before September.

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By 37ci3

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