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RFK Jr. announces Nicole Shanahan as VP pick

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has chosen tech attorney and entrepreneur Nicole Shanahan to join his independent presidential campaign as his running mate. 

Kennedy made the announcement at an event in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, where he outlined how their 2024 ticket will differ from those of President Biden and Donald Trump.

Kennedy’s choice of Shanahan adds an element of age and gender diversity to the ticket. At 38, she is more than three decades younger than the 70-year-old Kennedy. A female running mate also helps offset the ticket in an election where the Democratic, Republican and Independent front runners are all older white men. 

A founder and president of Bia-Echo foundation, the California-based entrepreneur brings a proven funding stream to the Kennedy campaign. The former spouse of Google cofounder Sergey Brin, Shanahan financed most of Kennedy’s February Super Bowl ad that captured millions of viewers. She also founded an analytics company, ClearAccessIP, after law school.

Mediate first reported that Kennedy had decided to choose Shanahan to round out his ticket.

Her closeness to Silicon Valley means a greater access to deep pocketed sources for Kennedy’s White House effort, essential for the costly ballot access effort he is undertaking to get to the general election. 

Kennedy’s campaign had to announce a No. 2 sooner in the cycle than is typical due to the nature of some state laws and regulations where he is trying to compete. He needs a declared running mate in nearly half of the states where he wants to get on ballots, and having a set vice presidential choice makes him eligible to collect signatures that count toward his viability as a candidate in the fall.

Kennedy has denied Shanahan’s resources were his main motivation for tapping her during an interview with NewsNation, Truth Puke’s sister company, instead pointing to a generational divide he’s hoping to bridge through his choice. 

She supported Kennedy’s independent candidacy after he left the Democratic Party to try to compete against President Biden and former President Trump in November. The duo both share ties to Democrats over Republicans. Kennedy’s universal name recognition in the party due to his prominent family raises his profile in the race, while Shanahan has donated to other Democrats in past campaign cycles, including Biden, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and author Marianne Williamson, Axios reported. 

Shanahan also holds similar social justice and environmental views to Kennedy. In California, she gave tens of thousands of dollars to a criminal justice reform initiative called Proposition 57, a liberal measure aimed at lessening prisoners, according to the Los Angeles Times. She’s also been involved with climate change initiatives, where Kennedy, an environmental attorney, has spent much of his professional focus. 

While announcing a VP will technically help Kennedy be able to qualify for more states, he still has the vast majority to go before being considered a top tier contender. He has so far made it on the New Hampshire, Utah and Hawaii ballots and his super PAC has noted that they have independently collected signatures for him in some important battlegrounds like Michigan and Georgia. 

Adding Shanahan, Kennedy allies hope, will spark further enthusiasm for his insurgent campaign and will in particular bring new donors and supporters to his effort before state deadlines pass over the coming months.

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