Kanye West Pushes Ahead in NJ To Appear on Ballot for Prez

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Kanye West's bid to appear in the NJ ballot for president is full steam ahead ... TMZ's learned he's filed the necessary paperwork to do just that.

We've learned Ye submitted petitions Monday with 1,327 signatures in his quest for a presidential run. In the Garden State, the requirement for Independent candidates to file for president is 800 signatures. Ye clearly surpassed that ... but from now until July 31 at 5 PM, there's an objection period where someone can challenge the validity of individual signatures submitted. If there are no objections, Kanye gets a place on the ballot.

This, of course, all sounds too familiar. TMZ broke the story ... he's facing a huge hurdle in his home state of Illinois after several objections over the validity of signatures gathered to get on that state's ballot. As we reported ... one of the objectors says he reviewed roughly 3,200 signatures but claims to have found less than 1,000 valid signatures in Kanye's docs. A hearing is set for next week on that issue.

As we've reported ... Kanye's already submitted paperwork to get on the ballot in Illinois, Missouri and Oklahoma.

So while Kanye is in the middle of a battle with his own family and mental health struggles ... it's clear his political team is still firing on all cylinders.

Kanye West Facing Big Hurdle in Illinois ... Just to Get on Prez Ballot

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Kanye West's bid to get on the Illinois ballot for President has just hit a bump in the road -- as in, serious objections about the petition signatures he's submitted.

TMZ's learned there have been 3 objections filed with the Illinois Board of Elections ... which means it will now evaluate the validity of the signatures on his petition, and then hold a special meeting to decide whether Kanye's name gets printed on the state's ballots.

Here's how it works ... officials tell us anyone can request to take a closer look at Kanye's 412 petition papers he submitted last week and every single signature can be objected to for various reasons -- including possible duplicates and/or use of fake names.

As for the objectors themselves ... we spoke to one, Sean Tenner, who says after reviewing roughly 3,200 signatures, he claims to have found less than 1,000 valid signatures in Kanye's docs. Sean believes the rest are invalid, but wouldn't specifically say why.

BTW, Kanye needs 2,500 valid signatures to remain on the state's presidential ballot.

Sean says he was motivated to investigate the petition signatures because he was fuming after Kanye's controversial Harriet Tubman comments.

We're told the board will now hold the special board meeting next week, and assign an officer to review evidence and decide Ye's fate on his home state's ballot.

As we reported ... Kanye dropped at least $30k to get on the Illinois ballot. Kanye managed to get on the Oklahoma ballot ... but the Land of Lincoln may prove more difficult.

LeAnn Rimes Proposed Law Is 'Unfair' ... Denies Low-Income Families Dental Help

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LeAnn Rimes says people shouldn't have to choose between risking COVID-19 exposure or not taking care of their teeth ... and she's ripping a proposed dental care law as "unfair."

The singer fired off a letter, obtained by TMZ, informing California State Senator Steve Glazer why she strongly opposes a bill known as the Dental Practice Act -- which would require patients to get an oral x-ray before using telehealth. For example, if patients want direct-to-consumer services -- like teeth whitening or aligners -- they would first need an x-ray.

LeAnn says the bill would unfairly block dental health access to low-income families, particularly those in Black and Latino communities where it's harder to find a local dentist.

Kerry Washington opposes the bill too, and her letter to Glazer helped get the bill amended to remove the in-person visit requirement ... but LeAnn points out that's just been replaced by the requirement for an oral x-ray, which still forces folks to go into a dentist office.

LeAnn says people shouldn't be forced to go into their dentist's office for an x-ray and risk potential exposure to COVID-19, and she fears the bill could spur some families to forgo dental care altogether.

The legislature is expected to debate the bill fairly soon ... and LeAnn wants Glazer to vote "no."

Rep. Hank Johnson John Lewis Would Pray for Trump If Prez Won't Pay Respects

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PAYIN' TRIBUTE
TMZ.com

John Lewis is a much bigger man than President Trump ... so says U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson.

We got the powerful congressman Monday on Capitol Hill after a ceremony for the late civil rights icon, and our camera guy asked if John would even want the Prez to pay tribute at the Capitol Rotunda, where Lewis is laying in state.

Johnson tells us John would welcome Trump if he chose to come by and pay respects -- POTUS said "I won't be going." Johnson says Lewis would still pray for 45.

Congressman Lewis died earlier this month at 80 after battling pancreatic cancer, which never slowed him down.

Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence are set to visit Lewis' casket in the Rotunda in Trump's stead.

John's still being remembered by folks all over the country ... and U.S. reps Stacey Plaskett and Dwight Evans are reminding people to remember Lewis' famous words and to get in some good trouble. And finally, Stacy noted John just couldn't stand still when he heard the song "Happy!"

Kanye West Submits Signatures for Missouri Ballot ... Barely Beats Deadline

Kanye West is scratching and clawing to keep himself viable for the presidential race, 'cause he just made another last-ditch effort to get on another ballot ... this time in Missouri.

The rep for the Secretary of State there says Ye's camp submitted signatures before the 5 PM deadline Monday -- just in time to be considered for an appearance on the November 3 election. Whether he has enough legit signatures to make the cut though ... still TBD.

Missouri election officials still gotta tally 'em up -- he needs 10,000 signatures from registered voters in the state.

Of course, he just squeaked onto the ballot in his home state of Illinois last week -- something that cost him a pretty penny to do ... upwards of $30k, as we first reported.

Remember, he missed the deadline in South Carolina about a week or so ago -- this after his off-the-rails campaign rally down there, which left him in tears ... and eventually on a Twitter tirade aimed at his family. Ye didn't bother submitting any signatures that time around.

So ... 2-1 thus far.

Robert F. Kennedy Org. Honoring Dr. Fauci, Kaepernick ... 'Human Rights Defenders'

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Colin Kaepernick and Dr. Anthony Fauci have both been tapped by the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights org. to receive its most prestigious award ... after being hailed as "modern-day human rights defenders."

Kap and Fauci are 2 of the 5 people selected for the 2020 RFK Ripple of Hope Award -- which honors people who "demonstrated a commitment to social change" and have "utilized their platform for the public good."

"At a time when the courageous pursuit of equality and justice has become political and riddled with adversity, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights stands with these modern-day human rights defenders in their inspirational fight for progress," the Org. said in a statement.

The other recipients include United Farm Workers of America co-founder Dolores Huerta, Pal Pal president Dan Schulman and DocuSign CEO Dan Springer.

Kaepernick issued a statement ... saying, "In 2017, I was in the audience honoring Mr. Harry Belafonte as he accepted the Robert F. Kennedy Ripple of Hope Award."

"I am humbled to follow the footsteps of individuals like Mr. B and to be in the company of all the other laureates. Thank you for this prestigious award."

Previous Ripple of Hope award winners include, Barack Obama, Tim Cook, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Robert F. Smith, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Belafonte, John Lewis, Hillary Clinton, Bono and Joe Biden.

The event is usually held in person -- but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it will go down virtually on Dec. 10 instead.

Too bad ... Kap coulda given Fauci a few pointers on how to throw a baseball!

Senator Tom Cotton Slavery was 'Necessary Evil' to Founding Fathers

Senator Tom Cotton has just out-Trumped Trump, calling slavery "a necessary evil" that allowed America to develop, and he wants to retaliate against schools that teach the real history of slavery.

The Republican Senator from Arkansas put it this way ... “As the Founding Fathers said, it was the necessary evil upon which the union was built, but the union was built in a way, as Lincoln said, to put slavery on the course to its ultimate extinction."

So, in essence, what he's saying is that slavery was needed because it served a purpose but the plan was to eventually end it.

It gets even more outrageous. Cotton wants to withhold federal funds from public schools that promote an initiative by the New York Times called the 1619 Project. It was established in 2019 to mark the 400th anniversary of enslaved Africans coming to America. The point of the project is to tell the real story of slavery and the contributions of African Americans ... something public schools don't do at all.

Cotton says he rejects the notion systemic racism in America is engrained in America from the beginning to the present ... something that otherwise seems firmly established.

The Senator has called the sentiment attributed to him "fake news" ... "I said that the Founders viewed slavery as a necessary evil." You decide if his quote embraces the sentiment.

Congressman John Lewis Procession Crosses Famed Edmund Pettus Bridge

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The final goodbye to John Lewis, the civil rights icon who helped change America, just took an emotional turn as his casket was taken over the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

After a short memorial outside the Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, the processional traversed downtown Selma and then reached the famed bridge, where 25-year-old Lewis and others were championing voting rights back in 1965. They were brutalized by cops and Lewis sustained serious injuries, including a fractured skull.

FINAL JOURNEY
Washington Post

Lewis frequently returned to the bridge, marking each anniversary of the confrontation.

Lewis said later in his life, "I gave a little blood on that bridge. I thought I was going to die.  I thought I saw death."

The bridge has become a symbol of the civil rights movement. President Obama marched on the bridge at the 50th anniversary of the brutality.

The crossing is part of a memorial spanning 5 cities that mark the life of the man his colleagues called the conscience of the Congress. The tributes began in Troy, Alabama Saturday, where Lewis was born.

Congressman Lewis died July 17 at 80, after battling pancreatic cancer. He never slowed down.

Kanye West Dropped $30k to Get on IL Ballot ... Keep Prez Hopes Alive

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Kanye West's last-ditch effort to make the presidential ballot in his home state worked ... but it cost him a nice chunk of change.

Sources with direct knowledge tell TMZ ... Kanye's campaign team hired a third-party vendor called Let The Voters Decide to collect the 2,500 signatures to make the ballot in Illinois.

Thing is ... Kanye did it with only a little more than a day to spare ... before the 5 PM Monday deadline.

We're told the group got to work right away, deploying 45 people who hit the streets in various parts of the state and racked up enough signatures ... all in 24 hours.

Our sources say they were paid handsomely for their efforts ... Kanye dished out $10-12 per signature, and they produced 3,178 signatures. Do the math -- well over $30k.

One of the signature collectors, Kenny Mister, tells us he got hit up Sunday to petition for Kanye. He says he was in Detroit, but dropped everything to get to Springfield, IL by Monday, worked for 3 hours ... and got 56 signatures at 10 bucks a pop.

Kenny says he went door to door, asking folks if they'd support Kanye getting on the ballot, but adding it didn't mean they had to vote for him.

BTW, if you're wondering if $10 per signature is a lot ... it is. Rickey Hendon -- a former Illinois State Senator who now works as a campaign consultant -- tells us the standard rate is closer to $1-3 per signature.

Rickey also says Kanye's team reached out to him a couple days before Let the Voters Decide ... but he declined.

REDIRECTING FOCUS
MEGA

It all might be a moot point ... Kanye missed the deadline to file in other states, and he seems like he's focused on other matters at the moment anyway ... many other matters.

Mike Ditka Against Kneelers In New Football League ... 'Get the Hell Outta the Country'

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TIME FOR A TWIST
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Mike Ditka says anthem kneeling protests are unpatriotic ... and the NFL legend tells TMZ Sports if he had it his way, he wouldn't allow the demonstrations in his new women's football league.

The Hall of Famer is slated to be the chairman of the X League -- a women's tackle football org. that was previously known as the Legends Football League -- and when we asked him if he'd be OK with protests during the national anthem, he straight-up said no.

"If you can't respect our national anthem, get the hell out of the country," Ditka said. "That's the way I feel. Of course, I'm old fashioned, so I'm only going to say what I feel."

Colin Kaepernick and others have said the kneeling protests have nothing to do with military or the flag ... they've continuously claimed the demonstrations are all about raising awareness for social justice and police brutality in America.

Some high-profile people like Drew Brees have changed their stance on the anthem in light of recent events -- including the death of George Floyd.

But, Ditka says he's sticking to his guns -- claiming he views kneeling as a slap in the face to the red, white and blue.

"You don't protest against the flag and you don't protest against this country who's given you the opportunities to make a living playing a sport that you never thought would happen," Ditka says. "So, I don't want to hear all the crap."

Ditka says he does NOT have the final say when it comes to the league's national anthem policy -- these are just his personal feelings.

As for the league itself, Ditka believes it has HUGE potential -- featuring a bunch of truly talented female athletes "knocking the crap out of each other."

Ditka's new league, which will feature 8 teams in major markets like L.A., Chicago and Seattle, is slated to kick off in April 2021.

"These women are pretty and good looking and want to knock the crap out of each other -- we'll see how it works!"

Congressman John Lewis Honored in Selma Memorial Service ... MLK III's Powerful Eulogy

FOREVER MY CONGRESSMAN

One of the final goodbyes to Rep. John Lewis -- one of the great civil rights icons in American history -- just wrapped up in Selma, Alabama ... and it was incredibly powerful to watch.

The Celebration of Life ceremony Saturday evening -- which went down the historic Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church -- was the second of several that are taking place this weekend and next week. The 'Selma Salutes Congressman John Lewis' memorial helped kick off a 6-day, 5 city tribute, began in Troy, Alabama, the city where Lewis was born in 1940 to parents who worked on a cotton farm.

The service featured several different speakers -- including local and state elected officials, as well as fellow marchers who stood with John Lewis and others during the Bloody Sunday march  1965, and they all had remarkable things to say about the late Civil Rights leader.

Lewis was right there with Martin Luther King, Jr., marching, protesting and getting brutalized by cops ... sometimes so horribly he could have died. But, a cracked skull would not stop Lewis, who sometimes smiled when his mug shot was taken after being arrested ... saying he smiled because he knew he was on the right side of history.

Speaking of MLK Jr., his son -- Martin Luther King III -- gave one of the more powerful eulogies of the night ... as he reminisced on what John stood for, and how he truly lived his own father's legacy through action and civil service. MLK III also stressed the need to vote and to end voter suppression -- something Rep. Lewis long fought for in his career.

After the ceremony, his body was set to lie in repose for some hours for the public.

Other ceremonies happening this weekend and early next week include some in Montgomery, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta.

Lewis died earlier this month from pancreatic cancer. He fought the disease for 7 months but never slowed down. The man served Georgia's 5th Congressional District for 17 terms. He was often referred to as the "conscience of the Congress."

Once again ... rest in peace to an American hero.

Brett Favre Hits the Links with President Trump ... Kap Backing a Flashpoint???

President Trump's latest guest on the golf course is someone many people probably didn't expect to see ... one Brett Favre, who recently voiced admiration for Colin Kaepernick.

The former QB and 45 hit the links Saturday, and even posed for a photo together that the White House later threw up online. They're both in golfing attire, and seem pretty chummy standing next to one another, with DT flashing the thumbs up and Brett with his arm on the Prez's back.

Up until now, we hadn't heard much from BF on his political leanings, especially as it pertains to Trump. Not that golfing with the guy indicates anything either, other than the fact that they're friendly. Still, though it's interesting -- especially when you bring Kap into the equation.

HE DESERVES A SHOT
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Remember, Brett told TMZ Sports that he considered Kaepernick in the same vein as Pat Tillman -- the former NFL player who enlisted in the armed services back in the 2000s, and then later died while at war ... a hero, in other words. Brett seemed to compare Kap to Pat.

He later clarified his comments, saying they weren't completely alike -- obviously, Pat made the ultimate sacrifice with his life -- but he noted they both sidelined their football careers for a cause bigger than themselves. Still, the sentiment was more or less the same.

With that in mind, you gotta wonder if CK was brought up during this outing. Of course, Trump has vocally criticized Kaepernick in the past, as well as any other players who take a knee during the National Anthem -- but he hasn't been so down on the guy these days.

In fact, Trump said Kap should probably get a second chance in the league ... if he deserves it. If that's where he is now on the issue -- maybe the topic wasn't as polarizing as you might think.

RFK Jr. Happy Bday to My Hunky Son, Conor Mmm, Kennedy Genes!!!

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. just wished his second-oldest son, Conor Kennedy, a happy birthday ... blessing us with a collage of hot shots that truly show just how strong that Kennedy DNA is.

RFK Jr. posted a b-day shout-out Saturday to his boy to celebrate his 26th birthday, writing ... "Happy Birthday,Conor! #condorkennyabish Nakuruai." He also attached several photos of the handsome young buck, several of which showed CK looking hunky and shirtless.

Look, the guy is VERY good looking -- we'd say like father like son, but with this family -- it's more along the lines of ... like Kennedy like Kennedy. Just a bunch of handsome dudes.

In Conor's case ... he's no exception. Some of the photos his dad posted showed him with his sister, Kyra, his brothers William and Aidan and his niece Bobby. The new generation of Kennedys are pretty tight it seems -- and the family seems to only get bigger by the year.

Now, Conor here has already sorta broken through the fame threshold ... even at his relatively young age. The guy dated Taylor Swift briefly in the summer of 2012 -- and by all accounts, she was pretty smitten with him. This was on the heels of his mother, Mary Richardson Kennedy, passing away by suicide -- which left him and his siblings grief-stricken.

Taylor was reportedly a rock for Conor during that difficult time, but things seemed to turn when she bought a house in Hyannis Port, MA ... literally a few houses away from the Kennedy compound, where Conor lived. There were reports ... it made him "nervous."

That's all water under a bridge now though -- he's moved on, and so has Taylor, obviously. Conor's since beefed out to be quite the man. If you need more proof, his stepmom, Cheryl Hines, posted even more throwback photos/thirst traps of the kid ... and yes, they too are to die for.

Those Kennedys, man.

Kerry Washington Slams Proposed Law That Would Deny Minorities Dental Help

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Kerry Washington says access to online dental care should be a basic human right ... which is why she's going to bat for minorities by lobbying California officials.

The actress fired off a letter, obtained by TMZ, telling California State Senator Steve Glazer why she opposes a bill known as the Dental Practice Act -- which would require dentists to conduct in-person visits with patients before using telehealth. For example, if someone wants direct-to-consumer services -- like aligners or teeth whitening -- they would first need an in-person trip to the dentist.

Kerry says the bill would adversely affect minority groups that often don't have access to healthcare, especially dental care. Kerry said, "I believe strongly that all communities and especially those that have been historically marginalized, deserve access to quality and affordable health care — and in this case dental care — for themselves and for their children. This is a basic human right.”

BTW ... Kerry's partnering with the company, Byte ... a teledentistry and orthodontics company. She says, "Companies like Byte expand access to teledentistry and offer the opportunity for all groups, especially low income, Black and Latino communities, to receive the dental and orthodontic care they need and deserve."

NBA star Draymond Green and LeAnn Rimes have also opposed the bill. California NAACP Prez Alice Huffman, says, "Now, more than ever, the African American community needs as many options as possible to close the disparity gap for oral health care. African Americans and other people of color have the right to affordable, quality health care treatment."

The legislature is expected to debate the bill fairly soon.

Donald Trump I'm Throwing 1st Pitch At Yanks Game ... No Crowd? Great!!!

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PRESIDENTIAL PITCH
CSPAN

Donald Trump says he's been tapped to throw out the first pitch at a Yankees game next month -- and points out there won't be any fans in the stands to react.

Trump says Yankees team president Randy Levine personally asked him to do the honors at an Aug. 15 game at Yankees Stadium -- when NY takes on the rival Boston Red Sox.

Trump says he asked Levine how the crowd is going to be -- before remembering, "You don't have a crowd. There's no such thing!"

Trump has had mixed reactions at sporting events ... he was booed during Game 5 of the 2019 World Series at Nationals Park in D.C.

But, on the flip side, he was wildly cheered at the LSU-Clemson College Football National Championship game in New Orleans back in January.

You got to wonder how Trump would be received in front of a live New York audience -- but he probably knows that answer already.

Trump has long talked about his talents as a young baseball player ... he claims he had pro potential back in the day -- despite no video ever surfacing of his playing days.

By the way, ex-Yankees superstar Mariano Rivera was in the room when Trump talked about throwing out the first pitch ... and Trump showered him with praise in front of the media.

This will be the first time Trump has thrown out a first pitch since becoming president -- no pressure.

Old news is old news!
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