How R.F.K. Jr. Got on the Michigan Ballot, With Only Two Votes

In January, when Doug Dern, the state chairman of the Natural Law Party of Michigan, got an email from a top strategist for Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s presidential campaign, he sensed it could be a star turn for his tiny political group.

For 22 years, Mr. Dern, a bankruptcy lawyer with a small practice outside Detroit, has almost single-handedly kept the Natural Law Party on Michigan’s ballot. Each cycle, the party runs a handful of candidates in obscure state races to meet Michigan’s minimum polling requirements for minor parties.

“Keep that ballot access,” Mr. Dern, 62, said in an interview on Friday. “Because someday, a candidate is going to come along who’s going to be perfect for it. Someday, the third parties are going to be hot.”

That day may have come.

In gaining access to the ballot in Michigan, a critical swing state in the 2024 election, Mr. Kennedy has injected new uncertainty into what promises to be one of the most closely contested presidential races in history. And he did it without having to gather a single signature, avoiding a costly and arduous organizing effort, not to mention the possibility of having to fight court challenges to those signatures.

Mr. Kennedy was formally nominated at a brief convention held Wednesday morning in Mr. Dern’s law office. The only two attendees were Mr. Dern and the party’s secretary.

Stefanie Spear, a spokeswoman for the Kennedy campaign, confirmed the timeline of the campaign’s outreach and said simply that Mr. Kennedy and his running mate, Nicole Shanahan, had been “duly nominated by the Natural Law Party.”

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