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RFK Jr. files new petition to land on Nevada ballot; earlier effort stuck in court

The campaign must gather at least 10,095 signatures by July 5 after its original petition was deemed invalid for omitting a running mate.
Eric Neugeboren
Eric Neugeboren
Election 2024

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s independent presidential campaign has filed a new petition with Nevada election officials to qualify for the November general election, after the candidate’s previous petition did not meet state requirements of including a vice presidential candidate on signature forms.

The signature gathering deadline for independent presidential candidates is July 5, meaning the campaign has less than one month to gather at least 10,095 signatures before state officials can undertake a signature verification process.

The new petition comes one week after the campaign filed a federal lawsuit against Nevada Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar, whose office determined that the campaign’s previous petition was likely invalid because it did not list a running mate. 

Kennedy is an environmental lawyer and nephew of John F. Kennedy who rose to prominence during the pandemic because of his anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. 

In an email on Thursday, Paul Rossi, the campaign’s ballot access attorney, submitted a revised petition that includes Kennedy’s vice presidential pick, lawyer Nicole Shanahan. That email bounced back when sent to an employee in the secretary of state’s office but was approved by a top official Friday morning, clearing the way for the Kennedy campaign to begin signature gathering efforts.

A staffer in the secretary of state’s office initially approved the Kennedy campaign’s original petition that did not include his running mate (who had not been announced at the time) — a decision that the secretary of state’s office later said was an “error” because Nevada law states that independent presidential candidates, by early August the year of the election, must submit a “declaration of candidacy and a petition of candidacy, in which the person must also designate a nominee for Vice President.”

The campaign filed a lawsuit last week in federal court, challenging the office’s decision and asking a court to force state officials to accept the more than 15,000 signatures it had already gathered by March. The campaign said this interpretation would contradict another state law that prohibits more than one candidate from being listed on the declaration of candidacy. 

The campaign also alleged that the requirement to add a vice presidential candidate to petition forms is unconstitutional because Democratic and Republican candidates did not need to have named a running mate while seeking Nevada’s delegates in the February presidential primary.

The campaign’s website says it is hosting an “HQ Debut” on Friday at the First Friday event in Downtown Las Vegas, where it will unveil a bus wrapped with giant images of Kennedy and Shanahan.

Kennedy’s entrance into Nevada’s presidential contest could shake up the race, though it is not clear whether it would benefit President Joe Biden or former President Donald Trump.

Surveys by Fox News released earlier this week found Biden trailing Trump by 5 percentage points in Nevada, regardless of whether third-party candidates were included. In a trio of Nevada polls conducted in May, Kennedy’s place on the ballot boosted Biden in two of them. In the other poll, which found Trump and Biden tied without Kennedy included, his place on the ballot boosted Trump’s lead to 5 percentage points.


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