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Progressive activist Cornel West leaves the Green Party and will run for president as an independent

Democrats are quietly concerned that he could make a significant impact in the 2024 contest by winning even a small portion of the vote in key states that would otherwise go to President Joe Biden

Cornel West
Political activist Cornel West speaks at a campaign rally for Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Senator Bernie in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, February 1, 2020.MIKE SEGAR (Reuters)

Progressive activist Cornel West is no longer running for president under the Green Party banner, his campaign said Thursday. Instead, the high-profile African American thought leader will run as an independent. “As Dr. West’s campaign for president grows, he believes the best way to challenge the entrenched system is by focusing 100% on the people, not on the intricacies of internal party dynamics,” West’s campaign said in a written statement. “Our Constitution provides for Independent candidates to gain ballot access in all states, and Dr. West has begun seeking ballot access as an Independent, unaffiliated with any political party.”

West faces long odds in his quest to become the first candidate not affiliated with a major political party to win the presidency. But Democrats are quietly concerned that he could make a significant impact in the 2024 contest by winning even a small portion of the vote in key states that would otherwise go to President Joe Biden. Some Democrats are still upset about Green Party nominee Jill Stein’s presidential bid in 2016, when she won more nearly 1.5 million votes in an election that Republican Donald Trump won by the slimmest of margins over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Meanwhile, West may not be the only independent or third-party candidate positioned to influence the 2024 presidential contest. Current Democratic presidential contender Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is widely expected to launch an independent or third-party bid next week. Also, the centrist group No Labels is actively securing ballot access for a yet-to-be-named candidate. It remains to be seen whether West can gather the tens of thousands of signatures required to qualify for the ballot in crucial states. Without the infrastructure of a formal party, such signature gathering will fall largely to grassroots volunteers.

In the statement, West’s campaign acknowledged continuing to share the Green Party’s “values and commitment to justice.” “Cornel West is in this race to challenge the hegemony of the two ruling parties (the corporate duopoly), which oppresses the poor and working class,” the campaign said. “It is long past time to stop ping-ponging between Republicans and Democrats while millions of our friends and neighbors lack housing, health care, decent jobs, clean air, clean water, nutritious food, and a healthy environment.”

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