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OLIVER: RFK JR. HAS NO LIBERTARIAN APPEAL

ATLANTA - Chase Oliver says that Robert Kennedy Jr. must be reading the Libertarian room, realizing that getting the party’s nomination for president will be as hard as gathering signatures to get on the ballot in 50 states.


“It should be crystal clear now that RFK Jr. isn't seeking the Libertarian nomination based on his choice of running mate,” says Oliver, 38, who topped the field in 4 primaries and participated in the Free and Equal debate. 

RFK Jr. announced Tuesday, March 26, that long-time Democrat, attorney, and tech entrepreneur Nicole Shanahan to be his vice presidential pick. What most media reports picked up on was her wealth - she had been married to Google co-founder Sergey Brin - and the ticket’s potential to be spoilers.


While Libertarian candidates for president often name a favored running mate, it’s typically someone whose issues align with Libertarian concerns. RFK’s choice seems to be designed solely to:

  1. Qualify for ballot access in states that require a vice presidential candidate be named

  2. Get more money to pay professionals to gather signatures to get him on the ballot.

Recent media accounts, sourcing the chair of the Libertarian Party, reported that RFK Jr. had been considering a run for president as a Libertarian. 


Oliver understands why RFK Jr. would be curious about running a Libertarian: “I think RFK Jr. is realizing ballot access is more expensive and time intensive than he thought, and this is a possible shortcut for him.”

Libertarians have been on the ballot in 50 states and Washington DC for the last two presidential races. It’s trickier than it looks because each has its own rules. 


Most start with signature drives for candidates - some easy to hit, others difficult. Independent candidates would need these in every state.


Some states award ballot access to a political party after hitting a benchmark in specific statewide races, a level that needs to be maintained typically every 4 years. This ballot access can make it easier for presidential candidates - they don’t need onerous signature drives in every state. Well-known candidates will say it’s a mutual benefit: Their reputation could buoy that state party’s ballot-access bid for 4 years.


Now that RFK has woken up to what Libertarians have been saying all along - ballot access is hard and he can’t just write a check to make it so - he’s eying an opportunity to run as a Libertarian instead of an independent.


Candidates must first endure the Libertarian gauntlet to get the nomination, and that ends at the convention on Memorial Day weekend in Washington DC. Unlike the pretend national conventions put on by the Old Parties - where the eventual nominee’s home state magically casts the votes that confer the nomination in a race that was decided in the primaries - Libertarian conventions come with volatility. 


Our delegates are not bound to a candidate. Libertarians also have an independent streak that can turn rebellious. We also can choose None of the Above and start over.

Candidates must harness that spirit to win over delegates. Most outside candidates whose issues are closer to Libertarian than RFK’s have found out that it’s not as easy as they imagined, and their campaigns petered out after a few state conventions.


What are the biggest obstacles for RFK? He can’t rely on his Kennedy name. Our delegates do not recognize royal families, even American royals.


He can’t rely on his issues. His stances on gun control and government control run counter to the party’s core issues.


He can’t rely on what he’s done for the party. He showed up in March at a single state convention, where many members grumbled that he shouldn’t have been invited. Libertarians from other states expressed gratitude that he didn’t show up at theirs.

Some candidates who ran as Libertarians came from other parties, usually Republican.They also didn’t come out of nowhere a few months before our national convention. Ron Paul (1988) and Gary Johnson (2012 and 2016) had been paying Libertarian dues for years, showing up at events and causes long before running under our party’s name. 

Even Bob Barr (2008) - by far the most controversial pick - had served a term on the Libertarian National Committee before running for president.


What has RFK done for Libertarians?

Big.

Fat.

Zero.

Libertarians can do math. It doesn’t add up for RFK. 


“I have seen zero interest from delegates over RFK Jr.,” says Oliver. “At every state convention, one of the most unifying things in the room is the sound rejection of selling our party and our principles out to RFK Jr.”

Delegates will reward candidates who’ve done the work - entered debates and candidate forums at state conventions, shown up to support local candidates and activism, and helped gather signatures for ballot-access drives.


Chase Oliver has been to 45 states and is set to hit 50 before the convention. 


Oliver has been collecting signatures this week in the chilling rain in Illinois. His campaign is recruiting from its 300+ volunteers and our personal networks to join signature drives, especially in Illinois and New York.


“We've worked over 50 years for this ballot access. We won't give it up to RFK Jr.”

LATEST UPDATES

 

Since his campaign began in 2023, Chase Oliver:


  • Participated in the Free and Equal Debate that included candidates outside of the Old Parties. 

  • Topped the vote in four Libertarian primaries.

  • Won the Presidential Straw Poll with about 43 percent of the vote at Libertarian Party of Iowa’s first Caucus. The Iowa Caucuses kick off the presidential campaign season, and showings here can make or break candidacies.

  • Became the first third-party presidential candidate invited to speak at the Iowa Political Soapbox at the State Fair, a reward for in-person campaigning in the Hawkeye State.

  • Has donors from all 50 states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico.

  • As Georgia’s first openly gay Senate candidate, spent June marching and meeting with many people at Pride events in Chicago, Atlanta, and Kansas City. 

Oliver’s national attention grew following his debate with incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock and an empty podium set aside for opponent Herschel Walker. Oliver garnered over 80,000 votes and forced a runoff between the Republican and Democratic candidates. 


Broadcast coverage includes PBS, CNN, Fox Business, Forbes, and CSPAN. Print coverage includes The New York Times, The Washington Post, Bloomberg, and Rolling Stone, which labels him the “Most Influential Libertarian.” 


Oliver is available for media interviews, including for university journalism and communications students.


To learn more about Chase Oliver, visit votechaseoliver.com.


To learn more about ballot access:


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