RFK Jr. qualifies for ballot in battleground Michigan

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. officially qualified for the ballot in Michigan, a key battleground state that could prove pivotal in deciding the outcome of the 2024 presidential election.

The campaign announced on Thursday that Kennedy and his running mate Nicole Shanahan were nominated by the Natural Law Party, a minor party with ballot access in the state. Natural Law Party of Michigan chair Doug Dern told CNN the party nominated Kennedy in a convention on Wednesday. The Michigan Secretary of State’s office confirmed to CNN the party’s nomination has been approved and Kennedy will appear on the state’s ballot.

Kennedy’s presence on the ballot in Michigan could alter the electoral dynamic in a state heavily contested by both President Joe Biden, who won the state in 2020, and former President Donald Trump, who won the state in 2016. The outcome of the elections in Michigan in both 2020 and 2016 was decided by less than 1% of the vote.

A Wall Street Journal poll released earlier this month found Kennedy polling at 12% among Michigan voters, trailing Trump at 39% and Biden at 37% in a hypothetical ballot featuring six total candidates. In a hypothetical head-to-head matchup between Trump and Biden, Trump earned 48% support from Michigan voters, while Biden earned 45% support.

Michigan has backed the Democratic nominee in every presidential election dating back to 1992, except for Trump’s victory in 2016, when he narrowly defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton by less than 11,000 votes in the state. In that same election, Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein received more than 220,000 votes combined in Michigan.

The 2016 results in states like Michigan are part of the reason why Democrats and Biden allies are pushing back sharply against Kennedy, the most prominent third-party candidate in the race. The Democratic National Committee has launched billboard ads outside Kennedy events across the country that attempt to link Kennedy to Trump through donations to Kennedy’s super PAC from Timothy Mellon, a GOP megadonor who has also donated to Trump-aligned groups. Some of the DNC’s first ads attacking Kennedy were placed on billboards in Grand Rapids, Michigan, outside a Kennedy campaign event in February.

Michigan may be among the states most vulnerable to flipping against Biden due to having a substantial group of pro-Palestinian voters who have protested Biden’s response to Israel’s military operation in Gaza. A grassroots movement led by Arab and Muslim Americans in Michigan garnered enough support in the state’s Democratic primary last month to earn more than 100,000 votes for the “uncommitted” ballot line.

Michigan is the second state where Kennedy has officially qualified for the ballot. He gained ballot access in Utah earlier this year, and his campaign has said it has collected enough signatures to appear on the ballot in New Hampshire, Hawaii, Nebraska, Idaho, North Carolina, Iowa and Nevada.

American Values 2024, a super PAC backing Kennedy’s presidential bid, said it has gathered enough signatures to put Kennedy on the ballot in four states, including Michigan. The PAC’s signature gathering effort is the subject of a complaint filed by the Democratic National Committee with the Federal Election Commission, alleging the PAC illegally coordinated with the Kennedy campaign. The PAC suspended its signature-gathering operation in March.

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

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