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Kanye West collecting sigs to get on Az presidential ballot, with GOP help

Rapper's campaign needs 39,000 valid signatures in 2 weeks

Rap superstar Kanye West is collecting signatures to qualify for the ballot in Arizona as a candidate for president, a campaign that appears to be receiving help from Republicans in the hopes that he'll siphon votes from Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Andrew Chavez, owner of the signature-gathering firm Petition Partners, tweeted that West's campaign began circulating petitions in Arizona on Thursday and is paying $8 per signature.

Independent candidates need signatures equal to 3% of all voters who are not registered with recognized political parties. The Secretary of State's Office has pegged the minimum at 39,039 signatures to qualify for the ballot. Any registered voter can sign the petitions.

The campaign has until Sept. 4 to collect the signatures.

"Tall order but they got a lot of people on the ground," tweeted Chavez, who is not associated with West's campaign.

West has sought ballot access in several states since launching his presidential campaign on July 4. He has already filed enough signatures to qualify for the ballot in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Oklahoma, Utah and Vermont. On Wednesday, he filed signatures in Minnesota, and has also submitted petitions in Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia.

West also submitted petitions in Illinois, Montana, New Jersey and Wisconsin, but failed to qualify for the ballot in those states. He has missed the deadline to qualify in 25 states and Washington, D.C. West is still trying to qualify for the ballot in several other states, a list that now includes Arizona.

In a number of states, including several swing states, West's campaign has received substantial assistance from Republican operatives as he seeks to get on the ballot, sparking Democratic fears that his campaign could lure voters who would otherwise vote for Biden, including Black voters, a key constituency of the Democratic Party.

Let the Voters Decide, a petition firm run by Republican operative Mark Jacoby, has assisted West in numerous states. The firm told Arizona Mirror that it has worked for West in more than a dozen states, but handed the campaign's Arizona work to another company, National Ballot Access, that is known for working on conservative and Repubican issues. Let the Voters Decide wouldn't comment on who's paying it or National Ballot Access for their work on the West campaign.

West has frequently expressed support for Trump, even appearing in public wearing his signature Make America Great Again hat, though he announced in July that he no longer backs the president.

West's quixotic presidential effort comes amid statements from his wife, Kim Kardashian West, that he is struggling with mental illness. The New York Times reported.

Soon after Mr. West's announcement, he explained that he was going to use a Wakanda-like management approach, referring to the fictional country from "Black Panther." His running mate, Michelle Tidball, is a self-described "biblical life coach" based in Cody, Wyo., where the Wests have a ranch. Ms. Tidball, according to TMZ, once advocated making beds and doing dishes as a way to treat mental illness.

During an appearance in South Carolina last month, Mr. West broke down crying. He later tweeted that Ms. Kardashian West "tried to bring a doctor to lock me up." Amid his erratic behavior, his wife has spoken out about her husband's struggles with mental illness, and Mr. West has publicly apologized to his wife for some of his comments.

A number of polls show Biden leading Trump in Arizona, which hasn't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1996.

This report was first published by the Arizona Mirror.

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White House

West, center, in the Oval Office with President Trump, October 2018.