Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has strongly hinted that he will run for president on a third-party ticket instead of continuing his Democratic primary challenge against President Biden. This move has raised concerns among Democrats about the potential chaos it could cause in the November 2024 election.
In a video released by his campaign, Mr. Kennedy teased a “major announcement” on October 9 in Philadelphia, where he promised to discuss a “sea change in American politics” and dropped hints about continuing his presidential campaign outside of the Democratic Party.
Mr. Kennedy expressed his belief that winning against the established Washington interests requires rewriting assumptions and changing the habits of American politics. He declared that he has found a path to victory after six months of campaigning, as he sees the inherent goodness of the American people.
Although Mr. Kennedy’s top aides have not provided further details about his intentions, his supporters have expressed frustration with the Democratic National Committee’s primary process, which they believe has favored President Biden’s re-election bid.
Democrats have been nervous about Mr. Kennedy’s candidacy since it began in April, fearing that a third-party run could divert crucial votes away from President Biden and potentially benefit former President Donald J. Trump, who is currently the favorite to be the Republican nominee.
Mr. Kennedy, an environmental lawyer and well-known purveyor of conspiracy theories, has built a following among Silicon Valley tech executives, disaffected voters from both parties, and skeptics of the medical and scientific establishments.
However, Mr. Kennedy’s fortunes have declined in recent months. Polls showed him with low single-digit support after his campaign faced negative news coverage of recordings containing bigoted remarks he made at a New York dinner. As a result, he no longer appeared to pose a threat to President Biden.
In recent months, Mr. Kennedy has hinted at continuing his campaign as a third-party candidate. He met with the chairwoman of the Libertarian Party in July and suggested on a podcast that he could leave the Democratic Party.
While Democrats are concerned that any third-party options would harm President Biden, it remains unclear which candidate Mr. Kennedy would draw more votes from if he qualified for the ballot in key battleground states.
Third-party candidacies have been a focus of Roger J. Stone Jr., Mr. Trump’s longest-serving political adviser. However, Mr. Stone stated that he has no involvement in Mr. Kennedy’s effort and is supporting Donald Trump.
Placing himself on the ballot as a candidate of a newly established third party would be a challenging and expensive process for Mr. Kennedy, as he would need to navigate ballot access laws in enough states to be considered a serious presidential candidate.
Overall, Mr. Kennedy’s potential third-party run has raised concerns among Democrats about its impact on the 2024 election and its potential to benefit former President Trump.