RFK Jr. files a new petition to get on the Nevada ballot; previous attempt stalled in court

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 failed to meet state requirements to include a vice presidential candidate on signature forms.

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

The new petition comes a 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 include a running mate.

Kennedy is an environmental lawyer and cousin of John F. Kennedy who rose to fame during the pandemic for his anti-vaccine conspiracy theories.

On Thursday, campaign attorney Paul Rossi filed a revised petition in an email that included Kennedy’s vice presidential pick, attorney Nicole Shanahan. That email bounced back when it was sent to an aide to the secretary of state, but was approved by a top administration official Friday morning, clearing the way for the Kennedy campaign to begin collecting signatures.

An aide to the Secretary of State initially approved the Kennedy campaign’s original petition, which did not include his running mate (who had not been announced at the time)—a decision that the Secretary of State later said was a ” wrong” was because Nevada law states that independent presidential candidates must file a “declaration of candidate and petition of candidacy in early August, the year of the election, in which the person must also nominate a candidate for vice president.”

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

The campaign also claimed that the requirement to add a vice presidential candidate to petition forms is unconstitutional because Democratic and Republican candidates were not required to name a running mate while seeking Nevada’s delegates during February’s presidential primaries.

The campaign’s website says there will be an “HQ debut” on Friday at the First Friday event in downtown Las Vegas, where a bus wrapped in giant images of Kennedy and Shanahan will be unveiled.

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

Fox News polls released earlier this week showed 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 increased Trump’s lead to 5 percentage points.

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