Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced Nicole Shanahan, an attorney and tech entrepreneur, as his running mate during a rally in Oakland, California, on Tuesday. Kennedy introduced Shanahan as the next potential Vice President of the United States, highlighting her legal expertise, scientific brilliance, technological prowess, and dedication as a mother.

Shanahan’s inclusion on the ticket aims to expedite Kennedy’s efforts to secure ballot access across various states, as many states require a vice presidential nominee for this process. Additionally, she will play a crucial role in expanding Kennedy’s appeal and fundraising efforts for his ambitious campaign. Speculation suggests that Shanahan, aged 38 and previously married to Google co-founder Sergey Brin, may contribute financially to support the campaign.”

Kennedy expressed his decision to choose Shanahan, citing their shared values on agriculture, healthcare, and Big Tech, along with a mutual alignment on leadership principles.

“I sought a partner who embodies not only administrative prowess but also possesses curiosity, an open mind, and the willingness to revise opinions in light of new evidence. I looked for someone with spiritual depth, compassion, idealism, and, most importantly, a profound love for the United States of America,” Kennedy stated.

While traditional presidential candidates typically announce their vice presidential picks closer to their party conventions in the summer, Kennedy’s early selection aims to facilitate the transition into the next phase of his campaign’s ballot access endeavors.

As the son of former US Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, Kennedy aims to secure ballot access in all 50 states and Washington, DC. Presently, he is only on the ballot in Utah. However, his campaign reports having amassed enough signatures to qualify in New Hampshire, Nevada, and Hawaii. Additionally, a super PAC supporting his candidacy asserts having collected adequate signatures for qualification in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, and South Carolina.

The Kennedy campaign disclosed on Tuesday that it is actively collecting signatures in 17 states and commencing petition gathering this week in an additional 19 states where it’s feasible and necessary for the vice presidential candidate.

In her remarks, Shanahan expressed her commitment to dedicating the next seven months of her life to aiding Kennedy in achieving his ballot access objectives.

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The two-party system is being challenged.

Kennedy, though never holding public office, has garnered a small but dedicated following due to his stance against public health mandates and perceived governmental and corporate influence by money. He is the founder of Children’s Health Defense, an organization known for disseminating anti-vaccine narratives, and has openly espoused anti-vaccine conspiracy theories during his campaign engagements.

In her recent remarks, Shanahan echoed some of Kennedy’s anti-vaccine sentiments, suggesting a false correlation between pharmaceutical medications, including prescriptions and vaccines, and the increasing rates of autism diagnoses. She drew from her personal experience researching children’s health following her daughter’s autism diagnosis.

“Pharmaceutical medicine has its merits, but we lack comprehensive studies on the cumulative effects of multiple prescriptions and vaccinations throughout childhood,”

Kennedy initiated his presidential campaign as a Democratic primary contender against Biden in April 2023. However, he transitioned to an independent candidacy last fall, citing a desire to challenge the two-party system’s failure to offer viable presidential options. This move has faced criticism from some members of the Kennedy family, as evidenced by their absence from a recent White House St. Patrick’s Day celebration attended by President Biden.

As Kennedy continues his independent presidential bid, he has engaged in discussions with the Libertarian Party since last year. Sources indicate he met with party chair Angela McArdle in February. Kennedy has previously expressed alignment with several Libertarian Party values, indicating a potential convergence of interests.

Kennedy expressed his aspiration for his campaign to serve as a platform for disenfranchised Democrats and Republicans, providing them with a voice. Addressing concerns about potentially spoiling the election for either major candidate, he maintained an optimistic outlook, believing in his capability to challenge and defeat both contenders.

“I acknowledge that our campaign may disrupt the conventional narrative. It indeed poses a challenge for both President Biden and President Trump,” Kennedy remarked.

Bernard Tamas, a scholar who has studied third parties in the United States, suggested that the attention surrounding Kennedy’s vice presidential announcement might not significantly impact public opinion, as historical data indicates limited interest in vice presidential candidates among Americans.

“Vice presidential nominees typically don’t sway elections significantly, even for major-party candidates. And for minor-party candidates, where public awareness is already limited, their impact is unlikely to be substantial,” noted Tamas, who teaches at Valdosta State University in Georgia.


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