R.F.K. Jr.’s Campaign Says He Will Be on California Ballot

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Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will be on the presidential ballot in California, his campaign said Monday, having secured the nomination of the American Independent Party, a minor party with a history of insurgent independent candidacies: Its first presidential nominee, in 1968, was the Alabama governor and segregationist George C. Wallace.

California is the fourth state where Mr. Kennedy, who is running as an independent, is all but assured a spot. The secretary of state’s office does not certify candidates until late August, the office said, but confirmed that Mr. Kennedy’s campaign filed paperwork on Monday.

California has the most electoral votes of any state, with 54, and it has particular resonance for the Kennedy campaign. Mr. Kennedy lives in Los Angeles, and his running mate, Nicole Shanahan, is a Silicon Valley lawyer and investor.

Mr. Kennedy, 70, is on the ballot in Utah as an independent, and two weeks ago he gained access to the ballot in Michigan, a critical battleground state, through the nomination of another minor party. In Hawaii, a newly formed political party set up for the express purpose of nominating Mr. Kennedy was granted ballot access earlier in April.

Mr. Kennedy’s campaign says it has enough signatures to reach the ballot in six other states, including North Carolina, New Hampshire and Nevada. The campaign is gathering signatures using paid petitioners and volunteers in other states, including in New York.

Democratic allies of President Biden, worried that Mr. Kennedy could have a spoiler effect on the election that hands the White House back to former President Donald J. Trump, have been waging a legal campaign to keep him off the ballot in key states. Mr. Trump, at the same time, has stepped up his attacks on Mr. Kennedy.

The American Independent Party was founded in the late 1960s in San Francisco, and its first nominee for president, in 1968, was Mr. Wallace, the governor of Alabama who had built his career on “states’ rights” and opposition to desegregation. The party’s original platform focused on devolving power to the states, law and order, and ending the war in Vietnam.

In a video posted to his campaign website on Monday, Mr. Kennedy explained the back story of his alliance with the party, reflecting his father’s presidential campaign in 1968, which ended with his assassination.

The party’s new leadership reached out to him, the younger Mr. Kennedy said: “It’s had its own rebirth, even before I came along,” he said. “It’s been reborn as a party that represents not bigotry and hatred, but rather compassion and unity and idealism and common sense.”

The American Independent Party is indeed casting itself as newly rebranded. In a “Statement of Purpose” on the party’s website — adopted on April 27, 2024 — it says “the new American Independent Party connects positive, visionary and independent candidates with California voters.”

It continues, in language that sounds a lot like Mr. Kennedy’s campaign: “It’s time for California to declare independence from the antiquated two-party system.”

A representative for the party did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A 2016 investigation by The Los Angeles Times found that many of the American Independent Party’s registered voters had marked their party affiliation in confusion, thinking they were registering as independents.

The party’s presidential and vice-presidential nominees in 2020 were Rocky De La Fuente, a businessman who has made several unsuccessful runs for elected office, and Kanye West, the rapper, producer and fashion designer.



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