Anti-vaccine activist and environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to run for the presidency in 2024 as a Democrat.
RFK Jr.’s campaign treasurer, John E. Sullivan, confirmed Wednesday’s filing. According to his campaign, Kennedy will formally announce his candidacy on April 19 in Boston.
Kennedy, 69, is the son of former U.S. attorney general and assassinated 1968 presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy. He is also the nephew of President John F. Kennedy. He previously served as a senator from New York.
Kennedy Jr. has promoted links to vaccines and autism and founded the Children’s Health Defense, an anti-vaccine organization. He has criticized the coronavirus vaccine and the federal government’s mishandling of the pandemic.
His vaccine stance was forcefully denounced in 2019 by three family members. His brother, Joseph P. Kennedy II, niece Maeve Kennedy McKean and sister Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, all denounced his anti-vaccine stance in an op-ed arguing he was “part of a misinformation campaign that’s having heartbreaking — and deadly — consequences.”
Kennedy Jr. invoked Nazi Germany in a 2022 anti-vax speech in Washington, D.C., at the Lincoln Memorial. In 2021, Instagram removed his account “for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus vaccines.”
Last month Kennedy said he was thinking about a presidential run. “If it looks like I can raise the money and mobilize enough people to win, I’ll jump in the race.”
His tweet pointed supporters to his website. “Let Bobby know you want to see his leadership in the White House,” the site says while asking for donations.
Kennedy works as an environmental lawyer with a group that led the Hudson River cleanup. Additionally, he worked for the Natural Resources Defense Council and co-founded an environmental law firm.
Kennedy Jr. is only latest in his family to seek higher office
If he continues his presidential bid, Kennedy would only be the latest in a string of family members in politics. His brother Joseph was a congressman from Massachusetts from 1987 to 1999. His sister Kathleen served Maryland as lieutenant governor from 1995 to 2003. More recently, his brother Chris campaigned unsuccessfully for governor of Illinois in 2018.
The last member of the Kennedy family to hold elected office was former Massachusetts Representative Joe Kennedy III, his nephew, who lost a 2020 Democratic Senate primary. He now serves as the U.S. special envoy for Northern Ireland.
The 2024 Democrat presidential race is only starting to take shape, with President Joe Biden expected to announce his bid for a second term sometime this summer. Last month, Marianne Williamson launched a second campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. She is considered a long shot. Caroline Kennedy, the only daughter of former President Kennedy, currently serves as the U.S. ambassador to Australia.
On the GOP side, former President Donald Trump was the first to announce his candidacy and third bid for the White House last year. Nikki Haley, former governor of South Carolina, and United Nations Ambassador and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy have also declared they are running. Other GOP candidates weighing possible presidential bids include former Vice President Mike Pence and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.