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(LifeSiteNews) — Environmental activist and former longtime Democrat Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has announced attorney and Biden donor Nicole Shanahan as his running mate in his independent presidential bid, disappointing many who hoped he would select a potential vice president who would be more palatable for disaffected conservatives.

Kennedy, nephew of the late President John F. Kennedy and son of the late Attorney General Robert Kennedy, announced in April he would be running in the Democrat primary against incumbent President Joe Biden, presenting himself as a challenger to the orthodoxies of both parties. But for months he contended that party leadership had “rigged” the primary process against him, so in October he announced he was switching to an independent bid.

For weeks, speculation has run rampant about various unconventional names Kennedy was reportedly considering for his running mate, including ex-wrestler and former Reform Party Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers, former U.S. Rep Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), former Democrat candidate Andrew Yang, and Discovery Channel host Mike Rowe.

Ultimately, however, Kennedy confirmed on Tuesday he has selected Shanahan, a Stanford Center for Legal Informatics research fellow and founder of the information technology company ClearAccessIP who was formerly married to Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

“Shanahan’s work on behalf of honest governance, racial equality, regenerative agriculture, and children’s and maternal health has put her at the forefront of many of the country’s most urgent needs,” the Kennedy campaign said in its press release. “Today’s event reaffirms the key principles of the Kennedy campaign of restoring the middle class, ending the chronic disease epidemic, unwinding the war machine, and unraveling corporate capture of our government agencies.”

“I am leaving the Democratic Party to do it, as Mr. Kennedy has himself,” Shanahan said in her introduction speech. “First, even though I’m leaving the party, I believe I am taking its best ideals and impulses with me.”

While she spoke of the Democrat Party losing its way, her professed retention of its core “ideals and impulses” is perhaps best reflected in her role as president of the Bia-Echo Foundation, a nonprofit that “aims to accelerate social change in order to establish a fair and equitable society for future generations to thrive.” 

The group identifies among its priorities “Women’s Reproductive Longevity and Equality” (“longevity” refers to researching ways to prolong women’s childbearing years, and “reproductive equality” is a common euphemism for abortion), so-called “criminal justice reform” (which in practice typically means lighter sentencing and early release for convicted criminals), and “inventive solutions” to “[r]ising temperatures around the globe have created an urgent threat to life on earth,” i.e., “climate change.”

She has also donated to the political campaigns of various far-left Democrats, including 2020 Democrat primary candidates Pete Buttigieg and Marianne Williamson, Joe Biden’s general election campaign that year, and Soros-backed Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon. Shanahan gave more than $150,000 to Gascon, who conservatives blast for pursuing a radical anti-police, soft-on-crime agenda.

Shanahan’s wealth will surely be a boon to Kennedy’s dark-horse presidential bid, though her selection has sparked vocal disappointment from many who had previously expressed varying degrees of sympathy and support for him, and had been expecting a running mate less aligned with conventional Democrat politics. Others reacted by saying the choice should not have been surprising given the various left-wing positions Kennedy retains, despite having won praise from the right over his opposition to COVID-19 shots and mandates.

Polls currently have former President Donald Trump leading Democrat incumbent President Biden, although voters also say that convictions in Trump’s various ongoing legal battles would make them less likely to support him. However, serious concern among Democrats over Biden’s age and mental health, and deep dissatisfaction with his job performance, give the current president comparable electoral challenges.

How Kennedy’s run will impact the race has long been a subject of speculation, given he appeals both to Democrats who want a more mentally capable and seemingly less extreme liberal, and Republicans who prefer his COVID stance to Trump’s record on the subject.

At the moment, the aforementioned polls have Kennedy drawing roughly the same number of votes from the two major candidates, leaving Trump with a narrow lead. But given how close many are predicting the election to be, concern persists over how even small defections could impact the outcome.