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RFK Jr. seeks a place on the Illinois presidential ballot

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s independent presidential campaign filed candidacy petitions with the state Board of Elections on Monday to appear on the Illinois general election ballot on Nov. 5.

Green Party candidate Jill Stein, the party's nominee in 2012 and 2016, as well as Libertarian and Constitution Party candidates also filed their presidential nomination papers before the 5 p.m. deadline for independent and third-party candidates.

Kennedy, a controversial heir to the famous political family, ran alongside his designated running mate, lawyer and philanthropist Nicole Shanahan. He initially sought the Democratic nomination before running as an independent.

Unless there are objections to their candidacies, the candidates who filed on Monday would appear on Illinois' fall ballot alongside Democratic President Joseph Biden and former Republican President Donald Trump after major party candidates are expected to announce their formal nominations later this summer.

Trump's formal nomination will come during the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee in mid-July. Biden is expected to be nominated by Democratic leaders before the party's national convention in Chicago, which begins Aug. 19, to get around the timing of an Ohio law that would have barred the president from running in that state.

Kennedy is the son of the late former presidential candidate and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of the late President John F. Kennedy. However, many family members have expressed opposition to his candidacy due to his controversial views on health issues.

Kennedy's motion in Illinois came on the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed without comment the hearings on two COVID-19-related appeals brought by Children's Health Defense, an anti-vaccine group that Kennedy founded and led until announcing his presidential candidacy.

The group has challenged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's emergency authorization of COVID-19 vaccines, claiming they are “ineffective and lack proper review.” A lower court ruled that the group does not have the necessary standing to sue.

The group also filed a lawsuit challenging Rutgers University's COVID-19 vaccination mandate. Another lower court ruled that the group had not made a “plausible claim for compensation.”

Kennedy failed to qualify for Thursday's presidential debate between Biden and Trump on CNN. Kennedy would have had to receive at least 15% support in four approved national polls by Thursday, but only met that requirement in three of them. As of the debate deadline, he had not qualified in enough state ballots to receive the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.

Since last month, Kennedy has been eligible to run in ten states.

To appear on the ballot, independent and third-party candidates had to submit petitions signed by at least 25,000 validly registered voters.

Democrats who supported Hillary Clinton saw Stein as a spoiler in the 2016 election. Although she received only 1% of the national vote, if she had gone to Clinton in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin as a whole, she would have overcome Trump's narrow margins of victory in those three states.

Stein, who was born in Chicago and grew up in Highland Park, is the Green Party's presumptive nominee. Samson Kpadenou of Florida has filed to be her running mate. She and Kpadenou are expected to be formally nominated at the party's virtual convention Aug. 15-18.

Also registered were Randall Terry of Tennessee, the presidential candidate of the Constitution Party, and his running mate Stephen Broden of Texas, as well as placeholders for Libertarian candidate Chase Oliver of Georgia and Mike ter Maat of Florida as running mates.

Political activist and author Cornel West was the most notable independent presidential candidate not to run in Illinois.

Two Illinois residents have also filed to run for president, but have been formally disqualified due to a lack of valid signatures. One of them listed the Ford County Jail as his address. Another listed a post office box in Peoria as his address.

Anna Harden

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