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No Labels Moving Ahead With Its 2024 Spoiler Campaign

No Labels is moving forward with its plan to offer a third-party ticket in the 2024 election, despite its failure to attract top-tier candidates and struggles to make good on its state-level ballot access goals.

On Friday, the dark-money group’s unnamed delegates voted to proceed with a so-called “unity” ticket — even as a No Labels official acknowledged they have not managed to find a candidate yet and may not be able to, according to Politico.

The No Labels pitch is, on its face, fair: Americans want and deserve an alternative to the presumptive 2024 nominees, President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. But while No Labels presents itself as a centrist voice for Americans who “feel politically homeless,” in reality the group is a front for billionaires and corporate executives — a Washington influence machine that fights for their financial interests in the halls of Congress. With Robert Kennedy Jr. also running as an independent, Democrats believe the No Labels third-party effort could undermine Biden and help throw the election to Trump.

Over the past year, the dark-money group has been leading a reported $70 million campaign to secure ballot access nationwide for a potential 2024 “unity” ticket. No Labels has refused to disclose who’s funding this effort, claiming that this is to protect its donors from “agitators and partisan operatives.” Thanks to a quirk in America’s broken system of campaign finance laws, the group will never be required to disclose who funded its ballot access effort — and would only have to start reporting donors if it were to formally back candidates.

So far, No Labels has secured ballot access in 16 states, and is trying to do so in 17 other states. The group has given no concrete hints as to which two divide-spanning politicians might run on its unity ticket, or to what party they might belong. The organization has waffled between floating one Democratic candidate and one Republican, or one Republican candidate and one independent, or even two Republicans.

The event Friday was not about selecting a candidate, but rather about deciding to move ahead with the unity ticket effort more broadly. And the group’s 800 delegates — selected by No Labels — decided the third-party effort is a great idea. (No Labels has refused to share information about its delegates, warning that opponents would try to “bully” them.)

“We are disappointed but unsurprised that No Labels’ hand-picked ‘delegates’ voted — in secret — to proceed with their profoundly dangerous and unwise third-party efforts,” says Matt Bennett, executive vice president for public affairs at the centrist Democratic group Third Way. “As our new poll makes clear, even a No Labels dream ticket led by Nikki Haley garners under 10 percent of the vote and comes in a dismal fourth behind Biden, Trump, and RFK Jr.”

But as the group works to move its unity ticket effort forward, the pool of nationally known politicians who could run on the No Labels ballot line is shrinking dramatically.

“No Labels is holding a convention to nominate any credible candidate, and none want to run with them,” says Ron Gunzburger, a longtime political operative who runs Politics1.com.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a No Labels co-chair who is retiring from the Senate, was seen as a top contender for the group’s third-party ticket, as he had repeatedly refused to rule out a bid and launched a “listening tour” in New Hampshire. Last month, though, Manchin declared that he has no intention of running for the presidency in 2024.

Another No Labels co-chair, former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, was also viewed as a strong contender for its unity ticket. He instead chose to run for Senate. New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said Thursday, “I’m going to support Donald Trump.”

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) officially shut the door on a third-party presidential run this week, too. Sinema, who left the Democratic Party in 2022 and was facing steep reelection odds, announced this week she will retire from the Senate at the end of her term. “I believe in my approach, but it’s not what America wants right now,” she said in a video. On Thursday, she told Bloomberg News, “I’m not running for president.”

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who ran a long and doomed bid against Trump for the 2024 Republican nomination, has said she will not run on the No Labels ticket. “I have said many, many times, I would not run as an independent,” Haley said this week, before she dropped out of the race. “I would not run as No Labels because I am a Republican.”

In a call with supporters in January, a No Labels official said Haley would not make much sense for the group because “sore loser” laws would disqualify her from running on a presidential ticket in many states — though she noted Haley could still potentially run for vice president.

Sore-loser laws could also rule out the possibility of former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie leading a No Labels ticket, according to its founding chairman, former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.).

“Since they apparently do not yet have a candidate, we encourage anyone considering this nomination to take the path of No Labels co-chairs Larry Hogan and Joe Manchin and decline,” says Bennett. “Their nomination is a path only to embarrassing defeat that could serve as a spoiler that returns Trump to power.”

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