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Democrats lead in lawsuit to keep RFK Jr. off November ballot

Updated June 21, 2024 - 6:55 pm

State and national Democrats are backing a legal challenge seeking to keep independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and his running mate off the November ballot.

The challenge comes in the form of a lawsuit filed Thursday in Carson City District Court. Court filings list Republican Uwe Rickenfeller and Democrat Francisco Morales, both of Clark County, as plaintiffs — but the challenge is being led by the Nevada Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee, a state party official confirmed Friday.

“The state of Nevada has set up a reasonable process for placing candidates on the ballot,” Nevada Democratic Party Executive Director Hilary Barret said in a statement. “RFK Jr.’s campaign has not met the requirements necessary to run as an Independent non-affiliated party candidate in our state.”

The lawsuit argues that placing Kennedy and his running mate, Nicole Shanahan, on the ballot as independent candidates would violate a Nevada law that prohibits a candidate from running as an independent candidate in Nevada while also running for office as the member of a political party.

Kennedy, a registered Democrat in New York, is running for office under the banner of six distinct political parties in other states, including the American Independent Party of California, under his self-created “We The People” party in Hawaii and under the Natural Law Party in Michigan, according to the lawsuit.

An opening brief in the case describes Kennedy and Shanahan as “opportunists.”

“Their attempted manipulation interferes with the rights of Nevada voters, including the plaintiffs, to an orderly and lawful general election,” the filing said.

The lawsuit also names Nevada Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar and asks the court to file an injunction barring Aguilar from placing Kennedy and Shanahan on the November ballot.

The Republican Party is not directly involved in the lawsuit, but Kennedy’s Nevada campaign coordinator Randell Hynes released a statement that took aim at both the Democrats and Republicans.

“The DNC and GOP are going to do whatever possible to maintain corporate control of our government and continue their profiteering on the backs of US workers,” he said in a statement.

Kennedy is already on the ballot in eight states, according to his campaign.

It’s the latest twist in the story of Kennedy’s Nevada campaign.

Earlier this year, Kennedy’s campaign circulated a petition to appear on the ballot, but that petition was determined to be invalid by the state because it did not name a vice presidential running mate. State law requires independent presidential candidates to also list their vice presidential running mate.

In early June, the campaign filed a lawsuit against the secretary of state, arguing that state law that requires independent presidential candidates to name their vice presidential pick on ballot access petitions violates the U.S. Constitution.

Kennedy’s campaign also submitted a revised petition that included Shanahan as his running mate. The campaign has until July 5 to submit the required 10,095 signatures to the secretary of state’s office to appear on the ballot in November.

The secretary of state’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Contact Taylor R. Avery at TAvery@reviewjournal.com. Follow @travery98 on X.

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