NATIONAL NEWS

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. qualifies for presidential ballot in Utah, the first state to grant him access

Jan 2, 2024, 9:17 PM

FILE - Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks during a campaign event, Nov...

FILE - Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks during a campaign event, Nov. 14, 2023, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has collected enough signatures to appear on the 2024 presidential ballot in Utah, election officials say, marking the first state where the independent candidate and prominent anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist has qualified.

Kennedy has met the 1,000-signature requirement needed to qualify for the Utah ballot and can officially file to run as a presidential candidate in the state before a March 5 deadline, state Elections Director Ryan Cowley said.

Utah is the first state where Kennedy’s campaign submitted signatures and qualified for ballot access, campaign spokesperson Stefanie Spear said. She did not indicate which day he would file for candidacy.

A scion of one of the nation’s most famous Democratic dynasties, the longtime environmental lawyer veered from the party last fall and announced his independent bid for the White House. He is a son of former senator and U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and a nephew of Democratic President John F. Kennedy.

The candidate rose to prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic for his embrace of public health conspiracy theories and has a loyal following of people who reject the scientific consensus that vaccines are safe and effective.

His success at gaining ballot access in Utah reignites questions of whether the independent could play spoiler for the eventual Democratic and Republican nominees. While it’s unlikely that an independent or a third-party candidate would win the presidency, they could siphon support from the major candidates in a way that tips the scales.

Allies of both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, the likely nominees for their respective parties, have questioned whether Kennedy could be a spoiler for their candidate. Both Biden and Trump are unpopular among voters, increasing the likelihood that third-party support could play a deciding role in 2024.

In an increasingly polarized political climate, Kennedy is playing the middle, aligning with influential people on the far-right while touting his background as an environmentalist. It’s not yet clear in how many states he will qualify for ballot access. Each state sets its own requirements, and the process for collecting signatures and navigating legal hurdles can be costly for candidates not backed by the major parties.

An organization that Kennedy founded, Children’s Health Defense, currently has a lawsuit pending against a number of news organizations, among them The Associated Press, accusing them of violating antitrust laws by taking action to identify misinformation, including about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines.

National News

Associated Press

After rare flash flood emergency, Florida prepares for more heavy rainfall in coming days

A tropical disturbance has brought a rare flash flood emergency to much of southern Florida as residents prepared to weather more heavy rainfall on Thursday and Friday. Wednesday’s downpours and subsequent flooding blocked roads, floated vehicles and delayed the Florida Panthers on their way to Stanley Cup games in Canada against the Edmonton Oilers. The […]

16 minutes ago

Associated Press

Arizona man sold firearms to undercover FBI agent for mass shooting, indictment says

PHOENIX (AP) — A firearms dealer in Arizona sold weapons to an undercover federal agent he believed would help him carry out his plan for a mass shooting targeting minorities, an attack that he hoped would “incite a race war,” according to a federal grand jury indictment. Mark Adams Prieto was indicted Tuesday by the […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Neil Goldschmidt, former Oregon governor who confessed to sex with a minor in the 1970s, has died

Neil Goldschmidt, a former Oregon governor whose confession that he had sex with a 14-year-old girl in the 1970s blackened what had been a nearly sterling reputation, has died. He was 83. Goldschmidt died at his Portland home on Wednesday, The Oregonian reported, according to family members. The newspaper said the reported cause was heart […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Man charged with robbing a California bank was released from prison a day earlier, prosecutors say

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A man charged with taking three people hostage while robbing a Southern California bank last month had been released from prison a day earlier, federal prosecutors said Wednesday. The 53-year-old was indicted on robbery charges after investigators said he claimed to have a gun, jumped over the teller counter and […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

South Carolina man pleads guilty in federal court to fatally shooting Virginia police officer

ABINGDON, Va. (AP) — A South Carolina man pleaded guilty to federal charges Wednesday in the shooting death of a police officer in southwest Virginia in 2021. Michael Donivan White, 36, of Cross, South Carolina, had already pleaded guilty to first-degree murder charges in state court. The federal counts include drug charges and causing the […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Democrats in Congress say federal mediators should let airline workers strike when it’s ‘necessary’

A group of 32 senators say federal mediators should speed up labor negotiations between airlines and their flight attendants and other workers, even granting them permission to go on strike “as necessary.” The lawmakers said Wednesday that airlines feel no pressure to reach contract agreements quickly because federal law makes it difficult for airline workers […]

6 hours ago

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. qualifies for presidential ballot in Utah, the first state to grant him access