What Kanye West needs to do for a White House bid

Rapper and fashion designer Kanye West (left) with his wife, reality-television star Kim Kardashian West. He had previously announced plans to run for president without doing so.
Rapper and fashion designer Kanye West (left) with his wife, reality-television star Kim Kardashian West. He had previously announced plans to run for president without doing so.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON • If Kanye West is serious about running for president, the American rapper and fashion designer will face major obstacles to mount a serious campaign, less than four months before the United States presidential election on Nov 3.

West, who said in a Twitter post last Saturday that he was running, will have to work fast to get his name on the ballot alongside President Donald Trump, a Republican, and the presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

West, who is 43 and one of Mr Trump's celebrity supporters, would have two routes to doing so.

He could try to secure the backing of a smaller political party, said Professor James McCann, a political scientist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

And, without a party helping him get on the ballot, another option would be to try to appear as an independent candidate.

But deadlines for registering that way have passed in a handful of states, including New Mexico and key battleground North Carolina.

Getting on the ballot as an independent candidate would also require hiring staff or recruiting volunteers to quickly gather tens of thousands of signatures across the nation before other registration periods close next month and in September - a task made more difficult by the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's hard to see Kanye West having a field operation," said Prof McCann, adding that another option would be for West to ask supporters to write his name on the ballot.

It is unclear if West, who is also known for his marriage to reality-television star Kim Kardashian West, has filed official paperwork to appear on state election ballots.

Reuters was unable to reach West's publicist for comment.

West, a celebrity highly skilled in grabbing the spotlight, had previously announced plans to run for president without doing so.

Last week, he entered a 10-year deal with Gap to create a line of clothing carrying his Yeezy brand name.

He also made headlines during a visit to the White House in October 2018, when he delivered a rambling, profanity-laden speech in which he discussed alternative universes and his diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

Three weeks later, he said he was distancing himself from politics and that he believed he had been used to spread messages he did not believe in.

Even with a serious campaign, West would be unlikely to draw more than a few percentage points of the vote, peeling away similar numbers of votes from Mr Trump and Mr Biden, said Professor Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Centre for Politics.

"He's got a long way to go even to convince us that he's serious," said Prof Sabato.

The last candidate to put significant effort into launching a presidential campaign a few months before the election was former Central Intelligence Agency operative Evan McMullin, who announced his bid in August 2016. He appeared on the ballot in only 11 states that year, receiving 0.53 per cent of the popular vote.

"There's a way to run as an outsider but it's hard and expensive, and I think West, or anyone else, has missed their window of opportunity to have a meaningful impact," said Mr Nathan Gonzales, editor of Inside Elections, which provides non-partisan analysis of campaigns.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2020, with the headline 'What Kanye West needs to do for a White House bid'. Print Edition | Subscribe