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

“They want good policies over partisan politics. We need to break the grip of the duopoly and give power to the people," West says of voters

NEW YORK (AP) — Progressive activist Cornel West said Thursday that he is no longer running for president under the Green Party banner. Instead, the high-profile African American thought leader will run as an independent.

“I’m running as an Independent candidate for President of the United States to end the iron grip of the ruling class and ensure true democracy!” West wrote on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

“People are hungry for change,” he added. “They want good policies over partisan politics. We need to break the grip of the duopoly and give power to the people.”

Harvard Professor Cornel West speaks at a campaign rally for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., at the Whittemore Center Arena at the University of New Hampshire, Feb. 10, 2020, in Durham, N.H. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

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.

“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.”

In the statement, West’s campaign also acknowledged continuing to share the Green Party’s “values and commitment to justice.”

“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,” the campaign said.

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