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GOP activists want Kanye West on the ballot. Will it matter

When a Democrat or Republican runs for president, there is usually a stable of nondescript legal experts affiliated with the party who can help navigate the jungle of electoral access laws in the country.

But if you were, for example, the music megastar Kanye West, who is making an unsustainable presidential offer under the banner of the not exactly serious “birthday party”, such a network of party political legal experts might not be easily available.

Not so. Over the past few weeks, Republican attorneys and strategists have been helping West file, on a small scale, the paperwork required in several key states, apparently in hopes of pulling black voters away from Joe Biden, the alleged Democratic candidate. to increase President Trump̵

7;s chances of re-election.

In the critical swing state of Wisconsin, local media reported that Lane Ruhland, a lawyer who represented the Trump campaign in a lawsuit, also did legal work for the Republican National Committee, former GOP Governor Scott Walker and the state Republican Party on electoral matters.

In nearby Ohio, the paperwork was turned in by an attorney for the Isaac Wiles law firm in Columbus, who has reportedly received tens of thousands of dollars in fees from state Republican campaign committees since 2015.

West Colorado’s efforts were fueled by GOP state officer Rachel George, who emailed another Republican strategist, “Would you help me get Kanye West, Colorado up for election? No, I’m not joking and I know it’s weird, ”said a Vice News message.

George and the strategist did not respond to requests for comment or to Trump’s campaign. A spokesman for Biden declined to comment.

West has already missed too many state filing deadlines to remain a mathematically plausible contender, and has hinted at his hopes of losing Biden’s votes. He said to Forbes, “I’m not denying it, I just told you. To say that the black vote is democratic is a form of racism and white supremacy. “

For longtime political observers, there’s no doubt what drives GOP institutional support for West, who was one of Trump’s most visible celebrities during the Republican’s first term. West has visited Trump at Trump Tower and the White House, and the President publicly thanked West and complimented him in return.

“One of the oldest tricks in the political game book is picking a third party candidate to lose your opponent’s support,” said Jim Manley, a Democratic strategist not involved in the Biden campaign. “What’s different here is that the third candidate is a hip-hop artist who has previously said nice things about the current president.”

Organizing something similar earlier would have happened in “the smoke-filled back rooms; They’d be sitting in a bar or something, ”said Manley, who described West’s candidacy as a“ farce, joke ”.

“I don’t think African Americans will vote for Kanye just because he’s on the ballot,” said Manley. “There is just too much at stake.”

So far there is no evidence that the West could have even a minor impact. A July poll of 2,000 registered voters by Redfield & Wilton Strategies found only 2% support for West, and most respondents said they didn’t think West’s run was serious.

“West supported Trump at least to a small extent. I think most voters know that, ”said Matt Hindman, associate professor of political science at the University of Tulsa published research on third party candidates and electoral access laws. “We’re talking about a very small percentage of people who could vote for Kanye West,” and it doesn’t even go without saying that those voters might otherwise vote for Biden.

West’s very public mental health problems have also raised questions about his candidacy. After West held an erratic campaign rally in South Carolina in July, West’s wife, Kim Kardashian West, said her husband had bipolar disorder and asked for compassion and empathy.

“Those who understand mental illness or even compulsive behavior know that the family is powerless unless the member is a minor,” Kardashian West wrote in a post on Instagram. “People who are unaware of this experience, or who are far away, can be judgmental and fail to understand that no matter how hard family and friends try, the individual must get help himself.”

At his sometimes tearful rally in South Carolina, West said his anti-abortion plan was to pay parents $ 1 million to have a baby, and said that abolitionist Harriet Tubman “never really freed the slaves; She just made the slaves work for other white people. “

Nathan Gonzales, editor and publisher of Inside Elections, an impartial guide to elections, believes that in a close race, West “it is possible” to improve the candidate-candidate balance.

“But we’re still a long way from knowing if Kanye will have an impact,” said Gonzales, pointing out that there are still questions about which state ballots West will qualify for.

It is not clear whether the West Wisconsin petition was canceled in time. he fell short of the signatures required to qualify in Illinois; He’s missed the deadlines in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Nevada, where a third-party candidate has the greatest ability to keep balance. ABC News reported that West’s team was unable to collect enough signatures to vote in California, the country’s richest election award, which is unlikely to pose a tangible threat to Biden.

“We don’t know how close the main states will be. We don’t know if he will take part in the election. And we certainly don’t know how many votes he would get, ”said Gonzales. “It’s an oversimplification of a more complex situation for people to say, ‘Oh, Kanye is black so he’s going to take black voters off Biden’.”

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