KEY POINTS

  • West announced his candidacy on the Fourth of July but actually made the decision in 2015 while taking a shower
  • Filing deadlines are fast approaching. About 40% will have passed by the end of July
  • West has no campaign organization and has yet to file with the Federal Election Commission

Hip-hop mogul Kanye West has a long way to go if he’s serious about mounting a presidential campaign this year with many ballot deadlines looming and a political organization that is limited to his wife, Kim Kardashian West, and Tesla founder Elon Musk.

West's late decision to run comes despite vociferous support for President Trump. He has often sported a “Make America Great Again” cap and spoken admirably about Trump's ability to rise to challenges. West has said if he had voted in 2016, he would have voted for Trump.

West, who has nearly 30 million followers on Twitter, used the Fourth of July holiday to announce his candidacy, pledging to unify the country.

West, 43, follows a long line of celebrities who have sought high office with no public policy experience. Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger were actors before becoming governors of California. In Minnesota, Jesse "The Body" Ventura was involved in wrestling before winning the governorship and Al Franken was known as a comedian from "Saturday Night Live" before he was elected to the Senate. And Trump hosted the NBC reality program, "The Apprentice," before he took up residence in the White House.

But the rapper, who has been estimated to have a net worth of $1.3 billion, has no campaign committee, nor has he filed with the Federal Election Commission. His announcement, however, triggered an FEC investigation of “false or fictitious” filings under the names “Ye West” and “Mr. Kenye Omari West” that both list a White House address.

As recently as May, West was still indicating he was loyal to Trump.

"We know who I’m voting on," West told GQ. "And I’m not going to be told by the people around me and the people that have their agenda that my career is going to be over."

West first declared his interest in the nation’s highest political office at the 2015 Video Music Awards. And if he doesn’t win in this go-round, West said he’ll run again in 2024.

He told the Forbes in an interview published Wednesday that his candidacy is not a ploy to sell more albums, but, rather, because he’s disillusioned with Trump and views presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as “not special.” He also objects to the Democratic party taking Black votes for granted.

He said he would run as a Republican if Trump were not seeking reelection. Instead, he will run as an independent candidate on the Birthday party: “Because when we win, it’s everybody’s birthday.”

West said he would model his government on Wakanda, the fictional country depicted in the 2018 blockbuster movie, “Black Panther.”

Former Republican operative John Pudner, executive director of TakeBack.org, said he sees nothing wrong with a West candidacy.

"Kanye West should not be discriminated against in his potential bid for president, any more than my friend Evan McMullin was four years ago when many thought he would take several percent from Donald Trump by splitting the Republican vote. … Americans want more choices, not fewer -- and the more options voters have the less likely candidates are to take voting blocks for granted,” he said in response to an email query from International Business Times.

But Matt Klink, owner and president of Klink Campaigns Inc., said he doubts West’s political foray is serious, nor does it pose a significant threat to either Trump or Biden.

“Mr. West will not qualify for most state ballots. He has no campaign infrastructure, no ‘base’ and few known or expressed positions on any issues. He does have name identification among younger voters; however, that's not enough to make him a serious or credible candidate and certainly not a threat to either of the two top contenders,” Klink told IBT.

The timing of West’s announcement is problematic. Filing deadlines for independent candidates already have passed in three states, and deadlines are coming up within a week in five others. By the end of July, only 33 deadlines will remain.

“If West were serious about this, he would have had to have started a long time ago," John Mark Hansen, political science professor at the University of Chicago, told Billboard. "Some allow payment of a filing fee, but most require petitions, which can involve thousands of signatures. That’s a lot of door-to-door and shopping center parking lots.”

West said he decided to run for president while taking a shower at his mother-in-law’s house as he prepared to accept the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award in 2015.

He said he has yet to form a foreign policy, opposes abortion and the death penalty, supports prayer in schools, would clean up chemicals, sees a need to unify the country and would consult God before making any decisions.

“I'm not crazy,” he told Forbes. “Between all of the influences and the positions that we can be put in as musicians -- you go on tour, you put out all these albums, and you look up and you don’t have any money in your account. It can drive you crazy, through all of that I was looking crazy because it wasn’t the time. Now it’s time. And we’re not going crazy, we’re going Yeezy, it’s a whole ‘notha level now. N-O-T-H-A.”