Robert F. Kennedy Jr. says he has qualified for California’s presidential ballot

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks before a campaign banner
Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaking at a campaign event in Miami.
(Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press)
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Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said Tuesday that he has qualified for California’s presidential election ballot, giving his candidacy a long-shot chance at collecting 54 electoral votes this fall.

If his spot on the ballot is certified by the California secretary of state, which could happen in August, Kennedy would represent the American Independent Party. The secretary of state’s office confirmed to The Times that Kennedy’s candidacy had been submitted by the party.

The party has a controversial history dating to 1968, when it nominated Alabama Gov. George Wallace as its candidate for president. He ran opposing desegregation and other federal civil rights laws in championing states’ rights. Kennedy’s father, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, a Democrat from New York, was assassinated in Los Angeles the night he won that year’s California presidential primary.


Kennedy says he has qualified for the ballot in California, Hawaii, Michigan and Utah. He has been investing heavily and, though running as an independent, is seeking alternative paths to the ballot since he opted out of running in the Democratic primary late last year. He recently selected California tech lawyer, entrepreneur and political newcomer Nicole Shanahan as his running mate.

With nearly half a million registered members, the American Independent Party is bigger than all of California’s other minor parties combined.

April 17, 2016

In a video statement released Tuesday, Kennedy said the American Independent Party was “so impressed by this outpouring of democratic energy and vigor. ... So they approached my campaign and offered us their spot on the California ballot. I see this story as a symbol of America’s homecoming.”

Kennedy added that he saw Wallace as a “bigot” who “was antithetical to everything my father believed in.”

In recent years, the AIP has been a source of confusion for voters seeking to avoid registering as either Republican or Democrat.

In California, voters may register as having no party preference, but The Times reported in 2016 that tens of thousands registered for AIP, many of them in error. Nearly 3 in 4 people did not realize they had joined the party, according to a survey of registered AIP voters conducted for The Times.

The AIP now exists only in California. Wallace won 46 electoral votes nationally as its standard bearer in 1968, one of the most successful third-party runs in modern history.


Relatives of Cesar Chavez decry the Kennedy campaign’s use of the late labor icon’s image. The candidate’s father, RFK, was an ally of the farmworkers union Chavez co-founded.

March 29, 2024

AIP today is not segregationist. In recent years, officials told The Times it “is a conservative, constitutionalist party.” It has opposed abortion.

The 2024 March California primary voter guide said AIP members “are all refugees from the Republican or Democrat parties. We believe the Constitution is the contract America has with itself. Its willful distortion led to the violation of our 10th Amendment guaranteed right to limited government — which inevitably requires oppressive taxation. Its faithful application will lift that burden.”

In a statement Tuesday, AIP state Chairman Victor Moroni said, “We all deserve to find inspiration at the ballot box. Our party is pleased to provide the opportunity for all 22 million voters in California to vote for Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for President. Voters crave a real leader who will unite America.”

The move could have an impact on the presidential race in California, but not enough to change the expected outcome.

A March poll from the UC Berkeley Institute of Government Studies and The Times found PresidentBiden leading former President Trump by 18 percentage points statewide in a head-to-head matchup. That dropped to 12 points when independent and candidates from minor parties were included.

In battleground states, Kennedy’s ability to qualify for the ballot could prove pivotal. In Michigan, like in California, Kennedy latched onto a smaller party — the Natural Law Party — that long held a ballot line. His success in these efforts appears to have led Trump to ratchet up his attacks on the Los Angeles resident. The former president said on social media over the weekend that Kennedy is “far more LIBERAL than anyone running as a Democrat.”


In Michigan, recent polls have shown the race essentially tied between Trump and Biden, with Kennedy a distant third. Polls in other battleground states show a tight contest but Trump leading in most cases.

Kennedy’s campaign has been on the receiving end of attacks from Democrats, who view him as a spoiler who could result in another term for Trump. They point to his extreme views and disinformation about vaccines.

In a 2021 podcast, Kennedy told parents to “resist” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines on vaccinating children. Through the years, he has spread falsehoods about the effectiveness of vaccines and more recently said COVID-19 lockdowns were something a totalitarian state would do, likening them to conditions in Nazi Germany.