Rapper Kanye West hints his presidential campaign is designed to spoil former Vice President Joe Biden’s bid to unseat President Trump; Jonathan Hunt reports.
It appears West’s name won’t be on enough state ballots to even make it mathematically possible to reach the necessary 270 electoral votes for a potential victory, after apparently failing to gather enough petition signatures to appear on the ballot in California, and elsewhere.
West has already suggested in an interview that his candidacy is meant to hurt Biden by siphoning off votes from the Democrat — though he later said he wants to “win.” But now his seemingly pipedream presidential aspirations have suffered a big setback for any potential pathway to the presidency.
To get on the ballot in California as an independent candidate, West would have needed to turn in nomination papers signed by 196,964 registered voters by the close of business Friday to various county election officials. As of Tuesday, a California election official told Fox News no counties had reported signatures from West’s campaign to the state. Not making the ballot means West loses any shot at the state’s electoral college prize of 55 votes.
West also didn’t turn in any paperwork to state election officials in Washington state and Connecticut — which also had a Friday deadline for independent candidates. That means he won’t be on the ballot there and loses access to 12 electoral votes in Washington and seven in Connecticut.
“My understanding is that West has already missed enough deadlines that he has no path to 270 electoral votes,” Kyle Kondik from the University of Virginia Center for Politics told Fox News Tuesday on the state of West’s campaign. “And even in places where he has submitted signatures, there are questions about the validity of those signatures.”
FILE – Rapper Kanye West wears a Make America Great again hat during a meeting with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Oct. 11, 2018. West says he is no longer a Trump supporter. The rapper, who once praised Trump, tells Forbes in a story published July 8, 2020, that he is “taking the red hat off” — a reference to Trump’s trademark red “Make America Great Again” cap. West also insisted that his announcement that he’s running for President was not a stunt to drum up interest in an upcoming album. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
Indeed, in states where West and his advocates tried to make the deadlines, he’s faced challenges regarding invalid signatures that bounced him from the ballot in New Jersey and his native state of Illinois.
Adding to the intrigue of West’s mercurial 2020 campaign is that known GOP operatives have been working on West’s behalf. It’s seen as an apparent effort to play spoiler in swing states by taking away potential votes for Biden and helping President Trump win a second term.
The most visible example of that was in the critical Midwest state of Wisconsin, which Trump won in 2016. A GOP operative who has worked for the Republican Party and Trump, Lane Ruhland, was the person who dropped off the signatures last Tuesday to get West on the ballot, Vice reported.
But West is facing a tough legal challenge from the Wisconsin Democratic Party, which contends the West campaign turned in the signatures late and therefore should be disqualified from the November ballot. The deadline was 5 p.m. Aug. 4 and the rep for West turned them in 14 seconds late, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The challenge also charges that West had invalid signatures such as “Mickey Mouse” and “Bernie Sanders.”
A lawyer for the West campaign, however, argued in paperwork filed in Wisconsin that the entertainer belongs on the ballot even if the petitions were just seconds late because the drop-off was hindered by state election officials, who locked their agency’s door, and an “overly aggressive” media and Democratic operative, the paper reported.
In addition to being an important swing state were a few thousand votes could determine the next occupant of the White House, Wisconsin has 10 electoral votes at play.
“Given that it appears that West’s bid is being aided by GOP operatives, it seems that Republicans believe West being on the ballot will hurt Biden more than Trump,” Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, said. “But I’m not sure we can be so sure. West’s political stances are — for lack of a better term — odd, and he comes across as more conservative than liberal. I could imagine him receiving protest votes from people who are both liberal and conservative.”
West has highlighted his Christian faith and anti-abortion stances. His 10-point presidential platform includes restoring prayer in classrooms, reforming the police, reducing household debt and maintaining a strong defense.
“The West campaign definitely merits watching, but there still is a lot up in the air about where he’ll be on the ballot,” Kondik said. “He most definitely will not be the next president, but it is not out of the question that his strange campaign could have some bearing on the outcome in a given state.”
Adding more mystery to the seriousness of his campaign is West’s choice for vice president.
Heather Krubeck, Tidball’s daughter, says her mom was taken aback that West chose her.
“I will tell you this. Michelle had no idea that West was naming her as his running mate,” Krubeck wrote to Fox News. “She even asked him to change his announcement.”
There’s a total of 538 votes in the Electoral College. A majority — or 270 electoral votes — is needed to win. Each state’s number of electoral votes is determined by population, with California having the most at stake with 55 votes and smaller states like Wyoming having three electoral votes up for grabs.
West has met the filing deadline in Oklahoma (7 electoral votes), Missouri (10), Arkansas (6), West Virginia (5), Vermont (3), Wisconsin (10), Ohio (18) and Colorado (9). Assuming he survives legal challenges and makes the ballot in all of them, that would give him a potential shot at 68 total electoral votes.
In addition to California, Connecticut and Washington, West has already missed the cutoff in Michigan, South Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, South Dakota, Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Kansas, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Nevada and Pennsylvania.
Fox News’ Andrew Craft contributed to this report.