Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Opts Against Libertarian Run After Iowa Ballot Access Victory

During a rally in Iowa on Saturday Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced he has decided against running as a Libertarian candidate to aid in his quest to secure ballot access in all 50 states, a departure from his previous stance of keeping the door open.

Kennedy told ABC News:

Kennedy’s West Des Moines event served as a victory lap after using a loophole in state law to gain ballot access by holding a one-day convention instead of gathering signatures on a petition. State law requires a minimum of 500 eligible voters from at least 25 of Iowa’s 99 counties. Kennedy’s campaign cleared that benchmark, reporting 686 credentialed delegates from over 35 Iowa counties, while those numbers are still pending approval from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office.

Kennedy thanked Iowans in a post to X, the social media platform previously known as Twitter, writing:

An undecided voter who expressed frustration with the two-party system, Kristy Tierney, 45, drove about 180 miles from eastern Iowa to help voters have another option on the ballot in November, telling ABC:

In an interview, Kennedy told ABC that he found the single-day event to be easier than collecting the 3,500 signatures required to appear as an Independent on November’s ballot, saying he has “100% confidence” in the campaign’s ability to replicate the success it found it the Hawkeye State nationwide.

Kennedy said: “We’re going to add probably two to three states a week.”

Kennedy has previously faced some challenges in gaining ballot access as an Independent, including having a completed haul of signatures rejected in Nevada over a technicality. This led to Kennedy keeping his options open and considering leading the Libertarian ticket to secure nationwide ballot access.

After a Super PAC gathered over the required 15,000 signatures, the Nevada Secretary of State sent a memo to Independent candidates highlighting the statutory requirement for a running mate to appear on the petition. In communications with the SOS office, signature-gathering organizers were told it was not a requirement, information the SOS later called erroneous. Notably, the approved petition didn’t have a space to fill in with the name of a vice presidential candidate. In response, Kennedy has threatened to sue the Secretary of State.

Libertarian Party Chair Angela McArdle stated that she wouldn’t be commenting on Kennedy’s pivot for several days. Kennedy had been a hot topic among libertarians, some expressed reservations about Kennedy’s choice for vice president, attorney Nicole Shanahan, who was absent from Saturday’s event, while others questioned if he was a dues-paying member of the LP. 

The Kennedy campaign has announced securing ballot access in North Carolina, Idaho, and Nebraska, in addition to Saturday’s event in Iowa. According to the campaign, signature-gathering initiatives have been completed in Hawaii, Utah, and New Hampshire, while the official determinations on Nevada remain in the air. 

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