Robert F. Kennedy Jr. qualifies for the presidential ballot in Utah, the first state to grant him entry


SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Election officials say Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has collected enough signatures to be included in the 2024 presidential nomination in Utah, the first state to field an independent and a major candidate. anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist Has qualified.

State Elections Director Ryan Cowley said Kennedy has met the 1,000 signature requirement needed to qualify for the Utah ballot and officially enter the state as a presidential candidate before the March 5 deadline. Can apply to fight.

Campaign spokeswoman Stephanie Speer said Utah was the first state where Kennedy's campaign submitted signatures and qualified for ballot access. He did not say on which day he would apply for candidacy.

The scion of one of the country's most famous Democratic dynasties, the longtime environmental advocate defected from the party last autumn and announced his independent bid for the White House. He is the son of former Senator and U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and the nephew of Democratic President John F. Kennedy.

The candidate rose to prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic for embracing public health conspiracy theories and has a loyal following that rejects the scientific consensus that vaccines are safe and effective.

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Their success in gaining ballot access in Utah has raised questions about whether independent candidates could ultimately spoil the game for Democratic and Republican candidates. Although it is unlikely that an independent or third-party candidate will win the presidency, they may receive support from the major candidates in a way that could tip the scales.

Allies of both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, potential nominees from their respective parties, have questioned whether Kennedy could be a spoiler For their candidate. Both Biden and Trump are unpopular among voters, raising the possibility that third-party support could play a decisive role in 2024.

In an increasingly polarized political environment, Kennedy is playing the role of the middle man, touting his background as an environmentalist and linking up with far-right influencers. It is not yet clear how many states he will qualify for ballot access. Each state sets its own requirements, and the process of collecting signatures and overcoming legal hurdles can be expensive for candidates not supported by major parties.

The organization that Kennedy founded, Children's Health Defense, currently has a lawsuit pending against several news organizations, including the Associated Press, accusing them of violating antitrust laws by taking action to identify misinformation , including about COVID-19 and COVID-19. Vaccines.

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