While many have dismissed Kanye West’s last-minute presidential run as a political sham and/or publicity stunt, some Republicans are taking the rapper’s 2020 campaign very seriously.
According to a New York Times report, a handful of influential Republican operatives are working to get West’s name on the ballot in several states. Even though the hip-hop billionaire’s chances of winning the White House are extremely slim, his campaign could potentially steal votes away from Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Kanye’s Spoiler Campaign
There are at least four Republican aides working to get West on the presidential ballot this year. One operative has been identified as Mark Jacoby, an executive at Let the Voters Decide, which has been collecting signatures for the West campaign in three states. Back in 2008, Jacoby was arrested on voter fraud charges while working for the California Republican Party. Per the NYT report, he later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.
New York Magazine reports that West’s campaign also has ties to Gregg Keller, the former executive director of the American Conservative Union. Keller, a GOP strategist who helped Republican Sen. Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, successfully assisted West in getting his name on the ballot in Arkansas. At one point, Keller was being considered to be President Donald Trump’s campaign manager in 2015.
Trump delegate Chuck Wilton is also linked to the West campaign. He was tapped to serve as an elector with the West operation and could potentially cast an Electoral College vote for the erratic rap star.
Another person helping West is Republican elections lawyer and Trump ally Lane Ruhland. Ruhland was spotted Tuesday dropping off ballot signatures for West in Wisconsin — a pivotal swing state. Ruhland worked for the Republican National Committee in 2016 and is part of Trump’s legal counsel.
“The connection raises questions about the aims of the entertainer’s effort and whether it is regarded within the G.O.P. as a spoiler campaign that could aid President Trump,” according to the Times report.
West, who is running as an Independent candidate, announced the launch of his bid for the White House in a tweet on July 4. Weeks later he had an emotional breakdown at a campaign rally and admitted that he and his wife, Kim Kardashian West, once considered aborting their first child. He also claimed that abolitionist Harriet Tubman did not free slaves. Once an avid supporter of President Trump, West recently revealed that he is naming his upcoming album after his late mother, Donda West.
Some political analysts say West’s candidacy could hurt the Democratic Party similar to how Jill Stein, the 2016 Green Party candidate, siphoned votes away from Hillary Clinton, according to her supporters. Political commentator Ana Navarro-Cárdenas echoed this sentiment in a tweet, telling voters to “pay no attention” to West. She also likened him to Stein, saying such candidates “come in a variety of colors and gender.”