Kanye West Adds Name to More Ballots, Including Key Battleground States

Key Points:
  • Kanye West has continued his third-party presidential campaign, landing on several new states’ general election ballots ahead of November.
  • The rapper has filed to appear on the ballot in ten states: Oklahoma, West Virginia, Arkansas, Vermont, Colorado, Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois, New Jersey, and Missouri. However, the authenticity of the signature’s on West’s petitions in New Jersey, and Illinois have been challenged, prompting the Birthday Party candidate to withdraw his NJ application.
  • Kanye is admittedly running to damage Joe Biden’s chances of becoming president, though he’s already missed the filing deadline for several key battleground states.

Kanye West’s presidential candidate lives on! Last week, the superstar rapper and music producer was added to a handful of states’ election ballots and applied for even more.

Last time we updated Kanye’s campaign’s status, he had successfully gotten his name added to the ballot in Oklahoma. He had also filed a petition to do the same in Illinois. However, the 412 pages of signatures submitted to the Illinois State Board of Elections have come under scrutiny.

From the Intelligencer:

In Illinois, West’s campaign barely cleared the threshold of 2,500 signatures required after a frenzied last-minute effort in the state that included canvassers standing in a supermarket parking lot next to the state board of elections only hours before the deadline. His campaign faces three different challenges in the Land of Lincoln that raise questions not only about the validity of the signatures he gathered but whether the paperwork submitted by West was inherently insufficient. Among other issues, the rapper did not submit the name of a vice presidential running mate or a slate of electors in Illinois.

West’s petition underwent a similar challenge in New Jersey, brought forth by former Democratic congressional candidate Scott Salmon. Despite turning in over 800 more signatures than necessary, Salmon called his documents “egregiously bad, almost to a degree insulting.”

The rapper has since withdrawn his petition in the Garden State – a Democratic stronghold, regardless.

He had more success in Colorado, where the Secretary of State’s Office announced Kanye West had earned a spot on the ballot last Thursday. To do so, he enlisted the help of at least one local Republican operative, according to The Denver Post.

Denver Post Excerpt:

Colorado is among several states where West’s nascent campaign has enlisted help from Republican operatives to get on the ballot, spurring speculation that he’s seen as a potential spoiler in President Donald Trump’s reelection fight against Democrat Joe Biden. West has supported Trump, but more recently he split from the president, announcing last month that he planned to run for the office himself.

Rachel George reached out to another Colorado GOP strategist this week to ask that person to sign a form as an elector for West, Vice News reported. George was a communications director to then-U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner — now a senator — and has worked for other Republican elected officials. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Kanye has also filed petitions in Arkansas, West Virginia, Vermont, Ohio, Missouri, and Wisconsin.
 

Battleground States

The most significant updates to West’s presidential election efforts are his attempts to get on the ballots in Ohio and Wisconsin – extremely critical battleground states.
 

Wisconsin

Wisconsin played a crucial role in Trump’s 2016 path to victory and was decided by fewer than 23,000 votes. The rapper won’t need much support to make a real impact on the electoral college math, which could determine the presidency.

Once again, he received help from Republican operatives.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported:

First, West’s nominating petitions were dropped off with state regulators by Lane Ruhland, former general counsel for the state GOP. More importantly, she is currently representing Trump’s re-election campaign in a federal lawsuit against a Rhinelander TV station.

The paper also dug into the backgrounds of the ten electors required to include Kanye on the ballot – each of which must pledge to vote for Kanye in the Electoral College should he win the state.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Excerpt:

Then there are the 10 electors that West’s campaign had to round up to make it on the ballot here.

The electors have to pledge to vote for West in the Electoral College if he were to win the state. Independent candidates have to submit an elector for each of the state’s eight congressional districts as well as two at-large electors.

According to their social media accounts, several of the electors are very big Trump supporters or second- or third-tier Republican activists.

Ohio

West’s campaign operatives also filed in Ohio, a perennial general election swing state. The Intelligencer detailed what’s needed to add the billionaire rapper, producer, and fashion designer to the ballot:

Intelligencer Excerpt:

To appear on the ballot in Ohio, West will need to gather 5,000 valid signatures by Wednesday at 5 p.m. One well-connected politico in the state was skeptical that the rapper could do so. “It’s a challenge” said the operative, who spoke on background in order to discuss the West campaign freely. “Last-minute big-dollar efforts seem especially vulnerable” to falling short in Ohio, the source noted, pointing to Jon Heavey, an aspiring 2018 gubernatorial candidate who failed to petition his way onto the ballot first as a Democrat and then as an independent — despite spending over $1 million on the effort.

Kanye’s Intentions Confirmed

Kanye’s moves to be involved in battleground state contests and his assistance from GOP operatives have confirmed liberal fears that he intends to spoil Joe Biden’s chances. Considering the many states in which he’s missed the filing deadlines, West has no hope of actually winning the election – plus, he’s all-but-told voters that he’s running to block Biden.

Forbes did a follow-up interview with the Birthday Party candidate last week, in which he discussed the situation.

Forbes Excerpt:

Amid various reports that Republican and Trump-affiliated political operatives are trying to get Kanye West onto various state ballots for November’s presidential election, the billionaire rap superstar indicated, in an interview by text today, that he was in fact running to siphon votes from the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden.

Asked about that directly, West said that rather than running for president, he was “walking,” quickly adding that he was “walking . . . to win.”

When it was pointed out that he actually can’t win in 2020—that he won’t be on enough ballots to yield 270 electoral votes, and that a write-in campaign isn’t feasible—and thus was serving as a spoiler, West replied: “I’m not going to argue with you. Jesus is King.”

He later told the Forbes that he’s okay with the possibility of spoiling the Democrats’ election, explaining that, “I’m not denying it; I just told you.”

Biden has a significant lead over Donald Trump – particularly amongst Black voters. Liberal operatives are concerned (and GOP pols hope) that Kanye will cut into this demographic in a few crucial regions with major Electoral College implications.

Suppose he picks up even 1-2% of the ballots in states like Wisconsin and Ohio. In that case, Kanye West has a legitimate opportunity to turn the political betting odds in favor of the incumbent Donald Trump.

Be sure to watch how his campaign evolves in those areas when handicapping the election.
Will Cormier / Author

Will Cormier is a sports and political betting writer living in downtown Las Vegas, Nevada. When he’s not wandering around the streets of the Arts District aimlessly, a lifetime of pessimism and paranoia has made Will perfectly suited for handicapping politics. Cormier tries to analyze current events as objectively as possible – a strategy that often enrages loyalists on both the right and the left. When he’s not covering major upcoming elections, Will enjoys writing about basketball, football, and MMA from a betting perspective. He also loves dogs, ice cream sundaes, the movie “Stomp the Yard,” and long walks on the beach.