Dem 51
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GOP 49
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The Libertarian Party is Not Wild about Nicole Shanahan

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. would just love to be the Libertarian Party's presidential candidate. That would get him on the ballot in almost all states with no effort. It would really make things much easier for him. The only problem is that the LP is not wild about him and even less enthusiastic about his running mate, Nicole Shanahan. Yesterday, LP National Committee chair Angela McArdle said: "I think that a lot of Libertarians are a little bit confused over why he chose Nicole Shanahan. I'm sure she's a lovely person, but she doesn't necessarily fit into alignment with any of our views." Somehow Kennedy forgot that the smaller parties tend to be very ideological and not big tenty at all. Part of the problem is that Shanahan, a registered Democrat, supported Pete Buttigieg and later Joe Biden in 2020. Neither of them align well with LP goals. McArdle also noted that while picking Shanahan may not disqualify Kennedy from being their candidate, she certainly does not help.

If the LP decides it wants an actual libertarian as their standard bearer, rather than a famous name who does not align well with their philosophy, Kennedy will have to fight state by state to get on the November ballot. Democrats will challenge him in court everywhere. It will be messy. In the end, he might get on the ballot in many states. On the other hand, if he gets the LP nod, many Libertarian voters will reject him because although they like his anti-vaxx views, some of his other views are anathema to them. For example, Kennedy supports a 21-week national abortion ban. Libertarians say it is none of the government's damn business what a women does with her own body. Kennedy also wants rich people to pay more taxes, something most libertarians oppose. He also supports major government intervention on climate change, including the Green New Deal. Libertarians generally oppose big government programs.

Jonathan V. Last at The Bulwark thinks Shanahan is a godsend to Biden. He lists her main qualifications for the second-highest office in the country:

Last challenges you to find any vice presidential candidate in all of American history less qualified than Shanahan. Sarah Palin served as governor of a state. Dan Quayle was twice elected to the House and twice elected to the Senate. Even Ross Perot's veep, James Stockdale, was a three-star admiral and genuine war hero. OK, if you want to scrape the bottom of the barrel, there was Lyndon LaRouche's veep in 1992, James Bevel. He was a civil rights activist but was also convicted of incest with one of his daughters and sentenced to 15 years for it. Last does think Kennedy thinks outside the box. It is a brilliant innovation to put your biggest financier on the ballot with you. Hello, Ted Cruz/Harlan Crow 2028.

Shanahan might appeal to loosely right-wing anti-establishment voters who like Candace Owens. But they were never going to vote for Biden anyway. In fact, they probably won't vote at all. Kennedy-Shanahan is like Trump-Whoever, but less antagonistic and without the racism and xenophobia. They are appealing to people with grievances about the world, just like Trump. These are not potential Biden voters.

Donald Trump doesn't know what to make of Kennedy. On the one hand, Trump sees him as a liberal Democrat who could pull votes from Biden. However, he also realizes that Kennedy's anti-vaxx positions will attract some of his voters and could cost him votes as well. If Trump starts attacking Kennedy on Truth Social, you'll know what the Trump campaign's internal polls are saying. It is not inconceivable that some outside Democratic group decides a bit of ratf*cking might be needed later on if Kennedy continues to poll well. Then they could run ads showing a dozen clips of Kennedy saying that vaccines are poison. That will (1) tell the Democrats that Kennedy is bad news and (2) tell the Republicans that Kennedy is good news. A twofer! (V)

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