No Labels: We May Not Put A Democrat On Our Bipartisan Ticket In 2024

“A Republican and an independent? I think that's certainly possible,” said a leader of the centrist political group that's fielding concerns it could help Trump win.

No Labels, the centrist political group planning to offer a bipartisan “unity ticket” for the 2024 presidential election, may not actually have a Democrat on its ticket, one of its top leaders said in a video recording of a recent event that was obtained by HuffPost.

“One of the things we’ve also gotten asked about is there’s, of course, Republicans, Democrats, there’s also independents and their presence on the ticket,” Ryan Clancy, chief strategist for No Labels, said in a Dec. 20 Zoom event titled “Common Sense Talks With Ryan Clancy.”

“And what if it’s a Republican and an independent? I think that’s certainly possible,” he said.

Clancy was responding to an attendee who raised a concern shared by many Democrats as No Labels prepares to launch a third-party presidential candidate: They will function as a spoiler, taking Democratic and independent votes away from President Joe Biden and boosting presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

It’s clearly a touchy subject for the group, which for much of the past year has been fending off growing fears that it would tilt the election to Trump.

“We’re not spoiling anything,” former Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat who joined No Labels last year to coordinate efforts to get on state ballots, told The Guardian on Saturday.

Nixon said at the Zoom event that the group has so far secured a slot for a No Labels presidential candidate on 12 of the 50 state ballots.

“Right now we’re on our way to moving forward,” he told event attendees. “And we will.”

But Clancy’s squishiness over which party or parties will even be on its ticket certainly suggests that No Labels is scrambling to figure out what, exactly, it will ultimately offer the American electorate. This comes after the group announced in November that it was abandoning its in-person presidential convention, originally set to kick off after Super Tuesday in March, and instead is opting to carry out its candidate selection process virtually, giving itself more time to sort itself out.

And amid this vague sense of movement, it was clear from the December Zoom event that even No Labels’ supporters and financial backers are worried they’ll end up helping Trump.

Many of the questions that Clancy fielded were related to making sure that No Labels doesn’t give Trump an advantage in November. One attendee, Will from Alabama, said for him it was “absolutely the number one priority in 2024” that Trump not get reelected. Another attendee, Paula, said she’d “been a long supporter of No Labels” but looking at the group’s plans for a bipartisan ticket, she was “having trouble trying to figure out how this is going to not reelect Trump.”

When an attendee named Martha asked Clancy about the idea of No Labels ditching its bipartisan “unity ticket” and instead putting up two center-right candidates to ensure that the group doesn’t pull more votes from Biden than Trump ― she proposed two Republicans, Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah) and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley ― Clancy said that was a “great question” and a “really interesting point that we should consider.”

“We might end up with two independents on it in the end,” he added.

Another No Labels official on the call straight-up confessed that he is nervous about the group being a spoiler for Trump.

“Love everybody at No Labels,” said John Leonard, the treasurer for No Labels in Raleigh, North Carolina. “But I support what Will and Paula were saying earlier.... I really worry about the prospect of Biden losing support and Donald Trump being inadvertently elected in the Electoral College.”

Asked why No Labels wouldn’t include a Democrat on its bipartisan “unity ticket,” Clancy told HuffPost on Wednesday that the group has always been open to other options.

“Nothing has changed,” Clancy said in a statement.

“No Labels has said from the beginning our intent is to offer our ballot line to a unity ticket featuring a Democrat and a Republican,” he said. “But we’ll be open to an independent being on the ticket if we think that gives the ticket the best chance to win.”

"We're not spoiling anything!" Jay Nixon of No Labels said in a recent interview about a third-party presidential candidate being, in effect, a spoiler for Donald Trump to win in 2024.
"We're not spoiling anything!" Jay Nixon of No Labels said in a recent interview about a third-party presidential candidate being, in effect, a spoiler for Donald Trump to win in 2024.
Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

But it sure looks like No Labels has moved its goalposts since it first touted its third-party ticket as an “insurance policy” if Biden and Trump end up being the 2024 nominees, in light of both being generally unpopular.

The group has gone from promising a “unity ticket” with no commitment to which party would be at the top, to telling donors it would pick a Republican for president and presumably a Democrat for vice president to now opening the door to a Republican leading the ticket with an independent for vice president, or even two independents on the ticket.

No Labels casts itself as nonpartisan and does not typically reveal its donors. But it has received significant funding from a prominent GOP megadonor, Harlan Crow, who also helped the group bring in more than two dozen other donors, according to the New Republic.

Possible candidates for the group to back include former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), retiring Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and even former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang. Romney has ruled out joining the group’s ticket.

At December’s Zoom event, Clancy did allow for the possibility that the group wouldn’t run a candidate at all if it couldn’t produce a ticket that it believes could win the 2024 election outright.

“We won’t put up a ticket,” Clancy said. “It is only worth doing if you have got an absolute first-class ticket that can capture the imagination of the public.”

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