In what could be a megaton blast under the 2020 Presidential Election, Kanye West announced on July 4, 2020, that he is entering the race for the Presidency.
West has previously stated an intention to seek the Presidency but the focus has been, in the past, on the 2024 race.
What exactly has motivated today’s announcement remains to be seen. West sent out a statement on Twitter saying only the following:
We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future. I am running for president of the United States 🇺🇸! #2020VISION
— ye (@kanyewest) July 5, 2020
There are many, many details still to be worked out — most notably ballot access in many states. The GOP and Democrat Party tickets are set, so there is little or no chance for him to leverage his way into the race in that fashion.
But there are Third Party slots still up for grabs if West decides to pursue such an option.
What West would bring to any such effort by a Third Party run is instant fundraising and notoriety. Any Third Party with West on their ticket would likely break all previous records for vote totals in the general election. Fundraising would give any such Third Party the ability to build a state party apparatus it currently lacks.
West has met with President Trump several times during his first term, and has generally been viewed as a supporter. He has worn the red and white MAGA hat in public, including during a performance on Saturday Night Live.
In late 2018, however, he began to create distance between himself and Pres. Trump politically, and it may have been in part on him having his eye on 2020 rather than 2024.
Could this be an effort to throw a wrench into the VP selection process of Joe Biden? The Biden campaign, and Dem party in general, seem to be having difficulty in coming to a consensus on who the best “woman of color” might be to run on the ticket as his VP. Given Biden’s age, and obvious decline in his mental capacity, if he were to win, his VP might end up being President for more days between the two elections than Vice President. Also, Biden would be almost certain to not run for re-election, so Biden’s Vice President would have the benefit of virtual “incumbency” with regard to the Democratic Party’s primary process leading up to 2024.
Is West offering himself up as a potential Biden Vice President selection? If that is, in fact, the back-channel message being sent, what risk would the Biden 2020 campaign run if they declined to consider him? Biden’s ability to secure the nomination is almost entirely attributable to solid support in the African-American community, and the view that he represents a third term of Obama Administration policies.
But Kanye West running as a Third Party candidate would certainly carve out for himself a very large slice from the African American vote that is otherwise destined to go to Joe Biden – and having Kamala Harris, Val Demmings, Karen Bass or some other African-American female as the VP on a Biden ticket is not going to change that.
Donald Trump proved what an out-sized celebrity with a gift for self-promotion can accomplish through free media. But Kanye West is also a media mogul in his own right, with the ability to spend tens of millions of dollars of his own money promoting his campaign. Two months ago Forbes Magazine pegged West’s net worth at $1.3 billion.
If West follows through and begins an effort to get ballot access, he’s going to change everything. Joe Biden’s “hold” on traditionally Democrat African-American voters goes out the window if Kanye West appears on ballots alongside him. Battleground states in the Rust Belt that the Dems believe they currently have an advantage in based on significant African American populations, such as in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio, all become much less friendly with Kanye West taking away votes. Border and nominally southern states like Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida all slip away as well.
Is Kanye West doing this a favor to Trump?
Is Kanye West setting himself up as the successor to Trump in 2024?