Austin/ Politics & Govt
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Published on May 15, 2024
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Scores Early Victory in Austin, Securing Double the Needed Signatures for Texas BallotSource: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Independent presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and his running mate Nicole Shanahan made waves in Austin, Texas, where Kennedy announced a significant milestone for his campaign: acquiring more than double the signatures necessary to secure a place on the Texas ballot. "We had a historic day today in Texas," Kennedy proclaimed at a downtown rally.

In a move to shake up the 2024 presidential race, the independent candidate has amassed a collection of signatures that he notes were "the easiest signatures they've ever gotten," according to FOX 7 Austin. His campaign's success in the Texas State may prove to be a critical turning point, as the national polls have sometimes shown Kennedy reaching as high as 16%.

At Brazos Hall, Kennedy and Shanahan addressed their supporters, emphasizing their plans to restore the middle class, reduce the national debt, and defend constitutional rights. Shanahan lit into the current state of Wall Street and Main Street, saying, "We have propped up Wall Street while Main Street businesses have shuttered their windows." Such sentiments have attracted a diverse audience, from lifelong Democrats to first-time independent voters, who stood in line early to secure their spots at the rally. Tracy Foshee of Oak Hill, whose voice adds to the growing chorus of disenchantment, told FOX 7 Austin, "I have been a Democrat since college. I've never voted for an independent or a Republican. This will be my first time to vote independent."

However, not all feedback has been positive. Kennedy has been under fire from within his own family over his positions on vaccines and his comments regarding the January 6th riots. Kennedy's retort to the criticisms was succinct and confident. "I'd like to know what I've ever said that's extreme. I think everything I say is common sense. It's characterized as extreme by people who don't want to hear me speak," Kennedy said, as per FOX 7 Austin. Despite the roadblocks, Kennedy remains focused on his goal, "But we're going to get on the ballot in every single state," he affirmed.

While Kennedy's future on the ballots of many other states remains to be seen, his appeal, particularly among young voters, is notable. As reported by KXAN, a Decision Desk HQ poll mentioned by News Nation suggests a favorable view from approximately 57% of voters aged 18 to 34. The impact of Kennedy's run on the outcome of the election continues to be a point of speculation among political analysts, as Dr. Brian Smith, a political science professor at St. Edward's University, conjectured Kennedy could "be a spoiler if he does well in battleground states, and then flips one of those states from maybe Biden to Trump.