R.F.K. Jr. Will Be on the Ballot in Florida, His Campaign Says

R.F.K. Jr. Will Be on the Ballot in Florida, His Campaign Says

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the independent presidential candidate, will be on the ballot in Florida this fall, his campaign said on Friday, after the minor party that nominated Mr. Kennedy as its presidential candidate had its ballot access reinstated this week.

It is a significant victory for Mr. Kennedy’s sprawling effort to get on the ballot in all 50 states. Florida has the third-largest number of electoral votes in the country, behind California (where Mr. Kennedy is already on the ballot) and Texas (where Mr. Kennedy has submitted a ballot access petition).

Florida is an increasingly Republican state — Donald J. Trump won by a margin of about three percentage points in 2020 — and it is unclear what effect Mr. Kennedy’s campaign could have on the race there. Mr. Kennedy is drawing support from both Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump, and both campaigns are concerned about the potential for him to swing the election in key states.

Mr. Kennedy is now on the ballot in seven states — California, Florida, Utah, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Michigan and Delaware — and is currently eligible for a total of 119 votes in the Electoral College. That metric is important even five months ahead of the election because Mr. Kennedy must be on the ballot in enough states to be eligible for 270 electoral votes in order to qualify for CNN’s presidential debate on June 27. With fewer than two weeks before the June 20 deadline to qualify, Mr. Kennedy has less than half of the total he needs.

Mr. Kennedy won ballot access in Florida through his nomination by the Reform Party, which has particular historical significance because it was founded by Ross Perot — a Texas billionaire who ran as an independent presidential candidate in 1992 and then formed the party ahead of his 1996 run for president. While Mr. Perot lost both races, they were the most significant campaigns by a third-party or independent candidate in modern American history — a feat that Mr. Kennedy hopes to emulate.

The Reform Party’s nomination of Mr. Kennedy allowed the campaign to sidestep the need to submit its own ballot access petition in Florida — an expensive and arduous venture that would require collecting more than 130,000 signatures from registered voters in the state.

Mr. Kennedy had initially sought ballot access in the state through the Natural Law Party, an outside group that nominated Mr. Kennedy through a two-person convention in Michigan — a key battleground state.

When Mr. Kennedy’s nomination by the Reform Party was announced on May 24, the campaign prematurely claimed that it had already gained ballot access in Florida. In reality, the Reform Party’s status as a registered political party in the state was revoked last year because it failed to comply with an audit. The party’s status was reinstated on Wednesday, according to a notice provided by the Kennedy campaign.

In addition to Mr. Perot and Mr. Kennedy, the Reform Party has fielded a number of presidential candidates, including Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader. Jesse Ventura, the governor of Minnesota from 1999 to 2003, was the Reform Party’s highest-ranking elected official. Mr. Trump had considered running for president as the Reform Party candidate in 2000, but ultimately dropped his campaign that year and left the party.

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