Cody’s first presidential candidate has been running a rather sporadic campaign, but is nonetheless garnering some support as a third-party candidate.
Kanye West will only appear on ballots in 12 states with his running mate and fellow Cody resident Michelle Tidball. He did not get enough signatures to make it on the Wyoming ballot.
They are running under the banner of West’s “Birthday Party.”
The campaign sued for ballot access in five additional states – Arizona, Ohio, Wisconsin, Virginia and West Virginia – and failed on all attempts. Lawsuits were filed to keep him off the ballot in Virginia, Arizona and Idaho.
West’s campaign was accused of forging signatures to get on ballots in Wisconsin and New Jersey. A legal counsel for the Republican Party of Wisconsin was filmed dropping off signatures on West’s behalf.
On primary election day in Laramie County, repeated reports were made of signature gatherers for West and fellow independent candidate Brock Pierce working too close to polling stations and aggressively pursuing voters.
On Aug. 7, it became statistically impossible for West to win the presidential election based on the number of states he is on the ballot.
West has recruited some legitimate figures within his campaign. His electors include a former Republican Party county chairman from Vermont and a director for President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign in middle Tennessee, and a former executive director of the American Conservative Union was listed as a point of contact on his Arkansas filing.
West was late filing his campaign finances, drawing criticisms from some he was trying to shield his sources of campaign income.
To date, his campaign has received $11,472 in contributions, while he has chipped in $6.7 million of his own money. The campaign has spent $5.8 million and has $8.03 million in outstanding debt.
He also paid a GOP consulting firm nearly $1.3 million for its work helping him get on the ballot in various states.
Despite only being a write-in candidate in New York, it has been the state in which he has spent the most, devoting $3.05 million to his campaign there. He has had no expenses besides bank fees in Wyoming.
He has released a few campaign ads and promotions online. On his campaign website, he is selling Kanye 2020 hats and apparel ranging from $40-to-$200.
In a recent national poll, West pulled 2% of the total vote, just behind the 5% that voted for “some other candidate.” In one Iowa high school’s student vote, West and Tidball beat out both Trump and Joe Biden for president.
No third party candidate has received more than 2% of the vote in a presidential election since Ralph Nader won 2.7% of the overall vote in 2000.
In August, West was also named the vice president candidate for the American Independent Party’s presidential candidate Rocky De La Fuente. The pair are only on the California ballot. The AIP did not respond to a request for comment about West’s involvement in the campaign, but AIP representatives and De La Fuente have said West was not consulted before the nomination.
Politically, West has a mostly conservative stance with elements of social justice reform and libertarianism mixed in, according to his campaign website.
“There couldn’t be a better time to put a visionary in the captain’s chair,” he said in a recent podcast interview with Joe Rogan.
Religion is one of his foremost initiatives and West has stated he will “restore faith and revive our constitutional commitment to freedom of religion and the free exercise of one’s faith,” planning to restore prayer in public school classrooms.
West said he also plans to reform the justice system by improving disparity in verdicts and prison sentences, which can be caused by a lack of resources or financial assistance. He said he would like to make changes to policing in order to eliminate prejudice, and wants to focus law enforcement efforts on larger-scale crime.
He also wants to reform the education system for the benefit of at-risk and vulnerable populations to allow the greatest possible range of educational and vocational opportunities.
Regarding foreign affairs he plans to initiate an ‘America-first’ type approach.
“We must project strength, not aggression,” he said. “We want trust, but we also must verify.”
He said he plans to maintain a strong national defense, “fully prepared, but not so quick to tie up our country’s young men and women in foreign quagmires that do not advance our national interest and which last for decades.”
Behind the campaign
West recently said his “calling is to be the leader of the free world.” He said Trump winning the election inspired him to run as well.
“When I saw Trump win, [I could see] that you can win if you come from outside of politics.”
West has expressed mostly support for Trump but has been much more critical of Biden and the Democratic party. He said the Democrats have curried black voters with the promise of welfare, leading to that demographic becoming dependent on the party and unmotivated to become self-sufficient.
“It’s about keeping poor people poor and rich people rich and keeping people in their place,” West said. “People are so programmed and brainwashed into classism and protectionism that it’s difficult for people to embrace innovation unless it has a tag on it that’s got a name brand on it that says, ‘with this innovation you will be better than your next-door neighbor.’”
Naming vice presidential candidates is typically more of formality for third party candidates.
Tidball has made no public comment since the news was announced she is West’s VP, a fact she confirmed with the Enterprise in July.
West said on a South Carolina radio station he asked fellow hip-hop artist Jay-Z to replace Tidball on the ballot. In September, she was reimbursed for $966.74 in airfare, according to campaign filings.