Kanye West is officially on the ballot as a presidential candidate in the state of Oklahoma. Only hours after the rapper filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission, he formally entered the presidential campaign. A public affairs officer for the Oklahoma Board of Elections told New York that a representative for West showed up at the Oklahoma Board of Elections with a properly executed statement of candidacy and the $35,000 filing fee. This was the last day that independent presidential candidates could file to appear on the ballot in the Sooner State.
A copy of the statement posted online was signed by West in Miami on Thursday and features a full slate of electors, as well as the signature of a notary employed by NBC. It lists the same address filed with the FEC, a commercial property owned by West in Wyoming, as well as including the rapper’s birthday — June 8, 1977.
West’s entrance in the race marks the latest shift in the rapper’s zigzag approach to the 2020 campaign. He tweeted on July 4 that he was running and then, as New York reported, started to mount an effort to get on the ballot in Florida before pulling back. Florida has onerous requirements to get on the ballot: West would have needed to get 132,781 valid signatures by close of business today.
Will Flanagan, one of the seven presidential electors listed on the filing, confirmed that he had been chosen to cast an electoral vote on the rapper’s behalf if West wins Oklahoma in November. Flanagan told New York that he had been connected to the campaign after hearing about it “through the grapevine.” He did not elaborate further before ending the interview.
On Thursday morning, West filed his formal statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission. The document is required for any candidate for federal office who spends at least $5,000 campaigning.
Moving forward with his campaign, West faces a number of obstacles. Many states require more than a check for a third party candidate to appear on the ballot. Further, the deadline to appear on the ballot has already passed in eight other states and the deadline in Michigan is tomorrow — where he would need to submit at least 30,000 valid signatures.
West would not be the first well-known and well-financed independent candidate to equivocate on mounting a presidential campaign. In 1992, billionaire H. Ross Perot mounted a third party run for the presidency before dropping out in July. He later reentered in the race in October, but unlike West, Perot had already qualified for the ballot in all 50 states.
It is unlikely that West will do well in Oklahoma, despite his family ties to the state. His mother, Donda West — “Donda’s Place” is written in all-caps at the top of his statement of candidacy — was born and raised in Oklahoma City, where West’s grandfather Portwood Williams Sr. was a civil-rights activist. Nevertheless, the state is a deep red bastion: In 2016, Donald Trump won nearly two-thirds of the Sooner electorate, while carrying every county.
For now, it appears that Ye 2020 is a one-state operation: West did not file to be on the ballot in Michigan by the 4 p.m. deadline on Thursday. The rapper would have needed to submit 30,000 signatures to be listed as a candidate in the Wolverine State. The next deadline is Illinois, where West grew up. Per a spokesman for the secretary of State, independent candidates for the presidency are required to submit 2,500 signatures by 5 p.m. on Monday, July 20.
A spokesperson for the Biden campaign declined to comment and a spokesperson for the Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Representatives for West also did not respond to a request for comment.