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Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has selected running mate, will announce choice within 2 weeks

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has selected a running mate and plans to announce that person in the next two weeks, according to someone familiar with the process.

Kennedy, the nephew of President John F. Kennedy and son of a former U.S. attorney general, left the Democratic Party last year in protest of its nominating process and launched a third-party bid. He has cast a broad net since then, speaking with former politicians, a famous athlete, a motivational speaker and several political activists as he seeks to find a partner for the campaign trail.

Like other independent candidates, his timetable has been accelerated by the requirement of 26 states and D.C. for independent presidential candidates petitioning for ballot access to submit the name of a vice president, according to Ballot Access News.

“Part of the anti-democratic strategy of requiring petitions for ballot access — when polling or small donor thresholds would be more accurate and less onerous — is forcing independent candidates to name a VP far earlier than a two-party candidate would need to,” Kennedy campaign manager Amaryllis Fox Kennedy told The Washington Post in a recent statement. She added that the campaign has engaged in a “broad process to find a partner capable of fighting for the true needs of all Americans.”

Kennedy has spoken with NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers, former independent Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura, former senator Scott Brown (R-Mass.), former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, former congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and Tony Robbins, the motivational speaker and life coach, according to the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe an internal campaign process.

He has also spoken with Tricia Lindsay, a Black civil rights attorney and former teacher in New York, who shares Kennedy’s opposition to vaccine mandates. He has had other conversations with Mike Rowe, the host of the Discovery Channel show “Dirty Jobs,” who has started a foundation that encourages people into vocational trades.

Most of the conversations have not resulted in a formal offer of a job, the person said, though some became more advanced than others. The New York Times reported some of these names earlier Tuesday. Kennedy, in an interview with the Times, confirmed that Rodgers and Ventura were at the top of his list.

Rodgers, who sat out nearly all of the 2023 season at the New York Jets with an injured Achilles’ tendon, is also an outspoken critic of vaccine mandates. Ventura, who was governor of Minnesota from 1999 to 2003, recently had a brief career as a host on RT America, a cable network whose parent company is funded by the Russian government. He now publishes a Substack newsletter and podcast with his son called “Jesse Ventura’s Die First Then Quit.”

A Fox News poll last week found Kennedy polling at 13 percent nationally, well ahead of other third-party contenders. Former president Donald Trump polled at 41 percent in the same poll, while President Biden drew 38 percent of voters. Those numbers have alarmed some Democrats who see Kennedy’s appeal, especially among core groups of Democrats such as Black voters, as a threat to Biden’s reelection.

Kennedy has been focused on gaining ballot access as an independent, a laborious process in all 50 states. He has announced that he has submitted enough signatures to qualify in Utah, Hawaii and New Hampshire. Kennedy has also created his own party, We the People, in some states to ease his path to getting on the ballot. The super PAC supporting him, American Values 2024, has promised to spend $15 million to help gather signatures in some states for ballot access.

Kennedy also has met with leaders of the Libertarian Party. He would have an easier path to secure ballot access if he became the party’s nominee, although many in the party have cited concerns of ideological differences.

Scholar and activist Cornel West, who is similarly seeking ballot access as an independent candidate, has also said he has been having conversations in an effort to announce a running mate soon to help him qualify for ballots. West’s co-campaign manager Edwin DeJesus said that the candidate hopes to announce a running mate by the end of March.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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