Kanye West poised to be bounced from Illi­nois bal­lot

Chicago Sun-Times - - NATION/WORLD - LYNN SWEET lsweet@sun­times.com | @lynnsweet

Kanye West is poised to be bounced from the Illi­nois pres­i­den­tial bal­lot, with a State Board of Elec­tions re­view of sig­na­tures on his nom­i­nat­ing pe­ti­tions de­ter­min­ing on Fri­day that West did not file the 2,500 valid names needed to qual­ify.

West’s last-minute en­try into the White House race is seen as a bid to siphon Black votes from Joe Bi­den, who will be­come the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee on Aug. 20.

West, an en­ter­tainer raised in Chicago, has been a booster of and close to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. Wear­ing his “MAGA” hat, West held court with Trump on Oct. 11, 2018, in the Oval Of­fice, when he made a plea for clemency for Larry Hoover, the no­to­ri­ous Chicago Gang­ster Dis­ci­ples king­pin locked up in a fed­eral prison.

While Illi­nois is a solid Demo­crat state, West get­ting on the bal­lot in some key swing states could have an im­pact in a close con­test. There have been mul­ti­ple news re­ports about Repub­li­can op­er­a­tives as­sist­ing his bal­lot ac­cess in other states.

The un­of­fi­cial re­sults of West’s Illi­nois pe­ti­tion scrub, con­cluded Fri­day, were dis­closed by one of the par­ties who filed ob­jec­tions to West’s pe­ti­tions: Sean Ten­ner, the 46th Ward Demo­cratic com­mit­teep­er­son and pres­i­dent of KNI com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

To qual­ify as an in­de­pen­dent, West needed 2,500 valid sig­na­tures. Ac­cord­ing to a state board re­port on the ob­jec­tions, given to Ten­ner, West filed 3,128 sig­na­tures, but 1,928 of those were found in­valid.

An ex­am­i­na­tion of West’s pe­ti­tions by the Chicago Sun-Times re­vealed he used out-of-state peo­ple to cir­cu­late his pe­ti­tions and many scrawled names that were not leg­i­ble. News re­ports said West used paid pe­ti­tion passers in other states; that ap­pears to be the case in Illi­nois.

The Fri­day re­sults of the pe­ti­tion re­view do not rep­re­sent a fi­nal rul­ing by the state board. West is en­ti­tled to dis­pute the find­ings. A hear­ing re­view­ing the ob­jec­tions, and mak­ing a fi­nal de­ci­sion on whether to knock him off the bal­lot, is still to come. A board spokesman said no date has been set.

At­tor­ney Ed Mullen, who rep­re­sented the Ten­ner group, said in a state­ment: “A fed­eral court re­duced the stan­dard sig­na­ture re­quire­ment from 25,000 to 2,500 be­cause of the COVID pan­demic, and West was un­able to even sur­pass this dra­mat­i­cally lower thresh­old. West’s lack of valid pe­ti­tion sig­na­tures is a sign of a dis­or­ga­nized and not ready for prime-time cam­paign.”

Ten­ner said he was not act­ing on be­half of the Bi­den cam­paign.

An­other ob­jec­tor, the Rev. Mitchell John­son, is a KNI con­sul­tant. He and Ten­ner are co-founders of the “Abo­li­tion In­sti­tute,” an or­ga­ni­za­tion deal­ing with mod­ern­day and past slav­ery. Ten­ner said they de­cided to chal­lenge West af­ter he said at a South Carolina cam­paign rally that Har­riet Tub­man, the fa­mous abo­li­tion­ist, “never ac­tu­ally freed the slaves. She just had the slaves go work for other white peo­ple.”

Ten­ner said “in­sult­ing and ly­ing about Har­riet Tub­man, one of Amer­ica’s great­est abo­li­tion­ists who fre­quently risked her life so oth­ers could be free, is sim­ply un­ac­cept­able from a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date. We’ve had enough di­vi­sive rhetoric like that in the past four years.”

On Fri­day, West was of­fi­cially off the New Jer­sey bal­lot, with­draw­ing af­ter his pe­ti­tions were chal­lenged. West will not be on enough bal­lots to get 270 elec­toral votes needed to win the White House. His wife, Kim Kar­dashian West, said in re­cent weeks West, with a bipo­lar dis­or­der, is strug­gling with men­tal is­sues.

Ear­lier this week, Trump was asked about West. “I like Kanye very much,” he said, adding: “No, I have noth­ing to do with him get­ting on the bal­lot. We’ll have to see what hap­pens.”


Kanye West meets with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in the Oval Of­fice on Oct. 11, 2018.

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