Republican operatives, some with ties to President Donald Trump, are actively helping Kanye West get on presidential general election ballots in states ranging from Vermont to Arkansas to Wisconsin.
The effort is raising questions about whether Republicans are pushing for the rapper’s addition to the ballot as a way to potentially siphon voters from presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Until Tuesday, West’s attempts to get his name on the ballot have only focused on states that are either dominated by Republicans or Democrats in presidential elections. But West’s expected addition to the ballot in Wisconsin means the rapper will likely be a choice for voters in a battleground state that is key to both Trump and Biden’s path to winning in November.
“I like Kanye very much,” Trump said at the White House on Wednesday evening. “I have nothing to do with him being on the ballot. I’m not involved.”
Democrats in Wisconsin and beyond called it a blatant attempt to appeal to young Black voters who may be unenthused about the Biden campaign. Any downturn in turnout for Biden among young black voters, a group the Trump campaign has tried to target in the race against the former vice president, could impact the outcome in states with traditionally narrow margins, like Wisconsin….
West’s first campaign event, a rally in South Carolina last month, was an unusual affair that looked nothing like a traditional campaign. The rapper — clad in what looked like a protective vest — made erroneous comments about Harriet Tubman and at one point broke down crying at the North Charleston event. The appearance led many to voice concerns about his well being. And a few days later his wife made a public statement acknowledging West’s bipolar diagnosis and asking for compassion and empathy.
“Those who are close with Kanye know his heart and understand his words some times do not align with his intentions,” she wrote.
Trump’s campaign strategy with black voters is two-fold: Court younger black men, especially in cities like Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s largest city, and suppress support for Biden.