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Time Running Out for Democrats to Replace Biden on Primary Ballots, If Need Be

Time is running out for the Democratic Party to find an alternative candidate to incumbent President Joe Biden — if he decides not to run after all, either for health reasons or because of the growing Hunter Biden scandal.

Wednesday’s decision by a federal judge in Delaware not to approve a plea deal between Hunter and federal prosecutors, which would have shielded him from further prosecution relating to business deals in which his father may have been involved, created new potential legal troubles for the president. His claim not to have spoken to Hunter about his business affairs has been shown to be a lie, and further questions may be coming.

George Washington University legal scholar Jonathan Turley suggested Thursday that Biden might do well to pardon his son and then announce that he would no longer be running for reelection — a “happy ending”:

However, the problem with dropping Biden is that Democrats would have to find a replacement on the primary ballot in nearly all of the states, or at least enough to account for a sufficient number of delegates to the party convention in Chicago in August 2024 (when combined with the party’s peculiar system of “superdelegates,” who are a group of notables and insiders that possess at-large votes that can be used to defeat insurgencies).
Each state has different rules for presidential primaries. Presumably, Vice President Kamala Harris could be a replacement for Biden in many states. The problem, however, is that she is even more unpopular than Biden is.

There are already two Democratic challengers to Biden who have been working on qualifying for the ballot in the early primary states — namely, environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and spiritual guru Marianne Williamson. If Democrats want an alternative — say, perhaps, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), who has been building a national profile in anticipation of a future presidential run — they face a rapidly-closing window.

According to Ballotpedia, which compiles information about elections, some deadlines are earlier than others. New Hampshire allows candidates to file until the week before the primary election — whose date is not yet set — while other early states, like Nevada, have tougher deadlines, requiring candidates to file by Oct. 16, 2023. In some states, political parties have discretion over deadlines. But the sheer complexity of the task requires time.

Then-Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-NY), father of the current candidate, waited until after the New Hampshire primary to enter the 1968 presidential race, and he was on his way to winning the Democratic nomination when he was assassinated in June that year. Certainly the party would move mountains to replace Biden, perhaps tinkering with its own rules — as it did in confirming Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primary.

But the task will be a complex one, requiring a national-scale operation. Time is running out — and Democrats may soon find they are down to a choice between Kennedy, Williamson, and perhaps Harris, if Biden drops out.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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