Kanye West qualifies as an independent candidate in multiple states, aided by Republican operatives. Ava DeSantis writes on the state of West’s bid for the presidency.
On Tuesday, Kanye West qualified to appear as an independent candidate on the ballot in Arkansas. West runs on his own “Birthday Party” ticket. His campaign submitted 1,700 signatures in support of his candidacy. The state requires only 1,000 signatures to appear on the ballot. Today, it is confirmed that West will be on the ballot in Colorado, Oklahoma, and Vermont.
He missed the deadline to register as an independent in New Mexico, North Carolina, and Texas, because West entered the 2020 race in early July. West’s campaign was not organized to collect signatures before the deadlines for Delaware, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, and South Carolina passed.
In multiple states, West’s signatures were rejected. In New Jersey, an attorney filed a legal complaint against the West campaign, claiming that 600 of the 1,327 submitted signatures were fraudulent. The complaint cited similar handwriting in many of the signatures, and others were missing complete addresses. In Illinois, West was removed from the ballot when state election officials decided 1,900 of 3,128 submitted signatures were invalid.
Arkansas and GOP involvement
Former and current Republican Party operatives were deeply involved in the West campaign’s success in Arkansas. Arkansas is a deep red state, which Trump won in 2016. West’s ballot petition was delivered to state regulators by the former general counsel for the Arkansas Republican Party, Lane Ruhland. Ruhland recently represented the Trump campaign as legal counsel, according to a campaign lawsuit filed against an Arkansas television company.
People with ties to Trump and the Republican Party also assisted West’s campaign in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin election board requires 10 people who would serve as electors, if the candidate were to win the state in the general election. 6 of the 10 electors West’s campaign listed have ties to the Republican Party.
For example, Fred Krumberger, a potential elector, is married to the former chairwoman of the Wisconsin Brown County Republican committee. Both Krumbergers attended Trump’s inauguration in 2017, and met Trump at another campaign event. JM McKoy is an officer of the Young Wisconsin Republicans, and a potential elector. Terri Steinbecker, another elector, posted photos on Facebook of a Trump banner. Another elector, Jordan Wieland is the brother-in-law of Joe Fadness, the former campaign manager for Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
Trump denied claims that he is involved in the West campaign. “I like Kanye very much,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “No, I have nothing to do with him getting on the ballot. We’ll have to see what happens.” West is a former Trump supporter, who criticized Trump lightly at the beginning of his campaign for hiding in a bunker during Black Lives Matter protests in DC. He believes, however, that “Trump is the closest president we’ve had in years to allowing God to still be part of the conversation.”
West is more critical of presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden. In an interview with Forbes, West said Biden is not “special,” unlike past presidents. “I’m not saying Trump’s in my way, he may be part of my way. And Joe Biden? Like come on man, please. You know? Obama’s special. Trump’s special. We say Kanye West is special. America needs special people that lead.”
Some Democrats believe West’s campaign is being used by the Republican Party to take votes away from Joe Biden. Former national security aide to President Obama, Benjamin Rhodes, calling Republican involvement a “dirty trick.”