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RFK Jr. Picks VP, but Still Isn’t on California Ballot
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By CalMatters
Published 3 weeks ago on
March 27, 2024

Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. right, waves on stage with Nicole Shanahan, after announcing her as his running mate, during a campaign event, Tuesday, March 26, 2024, in Oakland, Calif. (AP/Eric Risberg)

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Presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy Jr. chose Oakland to announce his vice presidential pick on Tuesday, so it wasn’t too much of a shocker that his pick was Nicole Shanahan, a Bay Area tech attorney and philanthropist.

Lynn La

CalMatters

Like Kennedy, she’s a “disillusioned Democrat” (party leaders have “lost their way”) who has never held elected office. As the former wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, she does have money. She already gave $4 million to the super PAC that aired the Super Bowl ads promoting Kennedy, Politico reports.

Her wealth may help Kennedy with his far greater challenge: To get on the November ballot in multiple states, including those that require the selection of a running mate.

In California, he created a new party, We the People. It’s not one of the six parties that qualified for the March primary, but it can qualify in two ways:

  • It can get at least 73,000 voters to register, or change their registration, saying they want to be in the party. (That’s at last count; the real number will be based on registration totals in July, which will likely be higher.) Kennedy’s campaign has until July 5 under this method, and it’s his first choice.
  • Or it can qualify by the perhaps simpler method of collecting signatures on petitions. But that requirement is much higher: More than 1.1 million signatures (10% of the votes cast at the November 2022 gubernatorial election). Kennedy only has until June 23 under this route.

Kennedy is also talking to the Libertarian Party, where his controversial and widely debunked anti-vaccination views are more popular. Shanahan said Tuesday that she had only seen “media slander” of Kennedy until she got to know him. In her introductory speech, she said that chronic diseases, autism and other conditions are caused by “forever chemicals,” “electromagnetic pollution” and overuse of pharmaceuticals.

Shanahan said she’ll spend the next seven months getting Kennedy on the ballot in every state. But there’s a potential pitfall from her selection: Either Kennedy or Shanahan would have to leave California to be eligible for the state’s 54 electoral votes because both candidates on the ticket can’t live here.

Newsom recall: Yes, there’s another possible election, though it seems unlikely to succeed: A second attempt to kick Gov. Gavin Newsom out of office. On Tuesday, the Secretary of State’s office cleared proponents to start collecting the 1.3 million valid signatures they need by Sept. 3.

Remember, the 2021 Newsom recall didn’t come close (62% said “no”), even with voters angry over the COVID-19 shutdowns. But recall organizers say California is in even worse shape today.

California Primary Update

Three weeks after voting ended in California, there are a handful of congressional and legislative races too close to call. And it turns out that several were key races that CalMatters highlighted in our Voter Guide.

For the U.S. House, they include the 16th District, which may be the closest of all. Assemblymember Evan Low and Santa Clara County Commissioner Joe Simitian have been jockeying for days within a few votes to finish second and join former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo in the November election to succeed Rep. Anna Eshoo, who is retiring after three decades. (If there’s an actual tie, both Simitian and Low would make the November ballot.)

For the state Senate, there’s still the 33rd District, where two Republicans are vying for second place behind Democratic incumbent Sen. Lena Gonzalez of Long Beach.

And for the state Assembly, the undeclared races include the 75th District, where it’s between GOP-endorsed Andrew Hayes and Democratic-backed Kevin Juza to go up against conservative activist Carl DeMaio in November.

As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, 39,000 ballots out of 7.7 million cast were still uncounted and just 17 of 58 counties reported completing their counts. The glacial vote tally has long been an issue and has been exacerbated by all-mail balloting.

Two deadlines are coming up: April 5 for counties to report final results in state races and April 12 for the Secretary of State’s office to certify the primary results.

Sign up for CalMatters newsletters at this link.

About the Author

Lynn La is the WhatMatters newsletter writer. Before joining CalMatters, she developed thought leadership at an ed-tech company and was a senior editor at CNET. She also covered public health at The Sacramento Bee as a Kaiser media fellow and was an intern reporter at Capitol Weekly. She’s a graduate of UC Davis and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

About CalMatters

CalMatters is a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom committed to explaining California policy and politics.

 

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