A political party has won ballot access in three states, aiming to offer voters a viable third-party option for president in 2024, and Democrats are worried the group will act as a “spoiler” to hand the presidency to Republicans.
No Labels, a group that claims to want to give voters a non-extreme presidential option next year, has gained enough support to appear on 2024 presidential election ballots in Colorado, Arizona and Oregon. Criticism of the group varies between those calling it a blatant effort to hurt President Biden’s re-election chances to those calling it outright grift.
“Rather than producing a third-party ticket that would defy the overwhelming odds and win, No Labels is on track to field a spoiler who would re-elect Trump or a Trump-like Republican,” think tank Third Way said in a memo this week.
As President Biden appears likely to launch a re-election campaign in the coming months and Republicans line up to challenge former President Trump for the GOP nomination, the movement to launch a new third party is drawing attention from both the right and left.
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Third-party candidates have not attracted significant support in the presidential elections. Third Way’s warning memo, first reported by Politico Tuesday, argued that third-party candidates have no chance of winning a general election and would mostly pick up voters who otherwise would vote for the Democratic candidate.
Pointing to former presidential candidates Jill Stein and Gary Johnson, Third Way argued that history shows when third-party candidates make it to the November election, it only helps Republicans.
“No Labels casts Biden and Trump as equally extreme and frames their ticket as an antidote to a rematch. But this is a smokescreen. Joe Biden has governed as a mainstream moderate, passing more bipartisan legislation than anyone dreamed possible,” Third Way’s memo said.
“No Labels is committed to fielding a candidate that will, intentionally or not, provide a crucial boost to Republicans — and a major obstacle to Biden. As a result, they’ll make it far more likely — if not certain — that Donald Trump returns to the White House.”
But No Labels insists its “unity ticket” would draw support “equally” from Republican and Democratic-leaning voters. The ambitious proposed path to victory would secure electoral votes from purple and swing states across the country.
Responding to criticism, No Labels tweeted Thursday night that “no one” with the organization has “any interest in fueling a spoiler effort.”
“At some point in the future, it could become clear that the public doesn’t want an independent ticket or that there is no path for one to win. Or we could find that there are no candidates with broad appeal or the courage to take on this challenge. If that happens, No Labels will not offer our ballot line to any presidential candidate,” the statement added.
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It’s unclear who the No Labels candidate would be or what the main policy positions would include.
The group’s 2020 policy playbook, however, includes policies attractive to Republicans as well as some Democrats. The “Policy Playbook For America’s Next President” released in 2020 lays out reforms to simplify the tax code, secure energy independence by 2024, balance the budget by 2030 and reduce regulations – all generally favorable to GOP lawmakers.
However, the playbook also includes policies many Republicans view as non-starters, like a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants (though only if “border enforcement were much stronger”).
No Labels has scheduled a nominating convention for April 2024, which is months ahead of the scheduled Republican and Democratic conventions.
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No Labels has been active in courting centrist lawmakers in Washington D.C., among them senators Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. Manchin and moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine attended a February conference No Labels hosted in Florida, where the pair praised centrism as a way to approach legislating in a divided government.
“The center is still going to be where people are going to have to gather around in order to get anything done,” Manchin said, according to Politico.
“Not just a grift. A virtual guarantee that it would elect the Proto authoritarian,” Norman Ornstein, a former American Enterprise Institute scholar, said of No Labels in September.
No Labels has seen no shortage of internal controversy in recent months. Mark Halperin, the group’s highest-paid employee, resigned earlier this week. The disgraced journalist was hired in 2021 after he resigned from ABC News following accusations of sexual misconduct from multiple women.