Third parties could cause voting upheaval in what's shaping up to be a tight presidential race in Pennsylvania

Benjamin Kail, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in Political News

"Trump won in 2016 and lost in 2020, and the big difference, at least here, is all that third-party vote went away and went to Biden," said Christopher Nicholas, a Harrisburg-based GOP consultant.

If he clears the substantial hurdle of getting on ballots in states with varying requirements, including 5,000 needed in Pennsylvania by Aug. 1, Kennedy "could be a real factor," said Vince Galko, a Pennsylvania Republican strategist.

"He will likely take more votes away from Biden than Trump, but libertarian voters who could go for Trump could go for Kennedy," Galko said. Either way, "the Democrats are doing everything they can to stop his campaign."

Both Biden's supporters and Trump blasted Kennedy this past week after he named Nicole Shanahan, a wealthy California lawyer and philanthropist, his running mate.

"All he can do is take away votes from President Biden and make it easier for Donald Trump to win," Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Austin Davis said during a Democratic National Committee press call. "We simply can't afford to let that happen."

Trump described Kennedy as "the most radical left candidate in the race, by far." But he said he "(loved) that he is running" and that his taking away votes from Biden, "would be a great service to America."


The Make America Great Again super PAC, which supports Trump, had no positive words about Kennedy's candidacy in an email, calling him a "far-left radical that supports reparations, backs the Green New Deal, and wants to ban fracking."

Stefanie Spear, the campaign's press secretary, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the Democratic National Committee and GOP try to pigeonhole candidates in a way that "perpetuates the divisiveness that has paralyzed our political system."

"The question of which candidate Kennedy will draw from most comes in part from a genuine inability of the establishment parties to understand a candidate who does not fit into conventional political categories," she said. "In fact, we are neither right nor left, neither liberal nor conservative. The key policy positions that Kennedy and Shanahan share defy those categories. Is ending the forever wars liberal, or conservative? How about freeing agencies from corporate capture? Ending the chronic disease epidemic? Protecting free speech?"

Kennedy's campaign says he already is on the ballot in Utah and has collected enough signatures for New Hampshire and Nevada, while actively collecting signatures in 36 open states.


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