Mar 4, 2024 - Politics

Colorado is a bright spot for Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s presidential campaign

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks during a voter rally Feb. 10 in Michigan. Photo: Emily Elconin/Getty Images

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks during a voter rally last month in Michigan. Photo: Emily Elconin/Getty Images

One of the most popular presidential candidates in Colorado won't appear on Tuesday's primary ballot.

The big picture: Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a former Democrat making an independent bid for the White House, is finding substantial support in Colorado by tapping into the state's independent-minded and libertarian-leaning ideology.

Why it matters: Kennedy pulls voters from major candidates in Colorado but represents a potential threat to President Biden, as disenchanted Democratic voters threaten to withhold their support in November.

State of play: A prominent environmental lawyer, Kennedy made a campaign stop Saturday in Denver to fundraise and speak at a cryptocurrency conference.

  • His Colorado bid starts in earnest in May when the campaign and an aligned super PAC must collect signatures from at least 1,500 registered voters in all eight congressional districts to get Kennedy on the November ballot.
  • The campaign has recruited more than 150 volunteers throughout the state to help, says Lori Boydston, the campaign's volunteer Colorado coordinator. "It's going to happen," she said.

By the numbers: Colorado is the Kennedy campaign's sixth best state for donations at $457,000, behind only much larger ones like California, Florida and New York, according to federal campaign reports.

The intrigue: Two Colorado donors also made large gifts to the America Values super PAC supporting Kennedy, including Daniel Adams, an Aspen-based alpaca farmer who donated more than $100,000 worth of shawls.

Zoom in: "The choices are going to be Trump, Biden or Kennedy, and this man is going to change the world," Brenda Helms told a student outside Arapahoe Community College in Littleton, where she and four other volunteers canvassed for support last week.

  • The 67-year-old teacher, a former Democrat who has shifted toward Republicans, handed out fliers with QR codes that link to Kennedy's call for ending vaccine mandates, deporting all unauthorized immigrants and stopping support for Ukraine in its war with Russia.
  • Kennedy is a truth-teller, she said, and wants to unite the country.

What she's saying: Beyond awareness of his candidacy, Helms said a major hurdle is convincing people that an independent candidate is a viable ballot option.

  • "There's so much fear. … People are like, 'I can't vote for him because then we might get Biden, we might get Trump' instead of looking at the best candidate and issues," she said.

The other side: Some who are aware of Kennedy's policies are not supporters, as evidenced by the reactions outside the community college.

  • His vocal vaccine skepticism is how most voters know him. As they walked by the volunteers, one woman called him a "lunatic" and another snorted "anti-vaxxer" in disgust.
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