With No Labels Out, Democrats Are Refocusing On 'Dangerous' RFK Jr.

Two major Democratic groups representing different wings of the party have come together to combat third-party threats.
Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. prepares to speak at a campaign rally at Los Angeles' Union Station on March 30.
Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. prepares to speak at a campaign rally at Los Angeles' Union Station on March 30.
Richard Vogel/Associated Press

Two prominent Democratic groups, the progressive MoveOn and the centrist Third Way, say they’re refocusing on combating the electoral threat of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s independent presidential campaign, following the news this week that No Labels is abandoning its plans to field a third-party unity ticket in 2024.

“The challenges ahead of us are in some ways even tougher,” Matt Bennett, Third Way’s co-founder and senior vice president of public affairs, told reporters Friday.

“Kennedy cannot be talked out of this race,” Bennett said. “He is going to have a lot of money, and he’s not subject to reason. So we’re going to have to make clear... that voters understand who this guy is, and that is not his father. This is not a safe place to park a vote if you’re dissatisfied with something the president is doing. This guy’s dangerous, and voting for him is tantamount to voting for [Donald] Trump.”

MoveOn’s executive director, Rahna Epting, echoed Bennett’s remarks: “You all know Robert Kennedy Jr.‘s math is no different from No Labels’ math. He has no path to 270 Electoral College votes. His run, like No Labels’, is nothing more than a spoiler.”

The two groups have mounted a coordinated mission aimed at stopping third-party candidates, who could sway a close election. In 2016 and 2020, a handful of votes in swing states tipped the scales toward Trump and Joe Biden, respectively.

Both officials say their strategy will be to educate voters about Kennedy’s squishy position on abortion bans and his running mate Nicole Shanahan’s criticism of in vitro fertilization. They also intend to hammer the idea that Kennedy, a former Democrat who became an independent to run for president, has no path against Biden and Trump.

Neither Bennett nor Epting indicated how much the groups are aiming to spend on their efforts. Bennett said Third Way would mostly rely on two affiliated super PACs, Clear Choice and Future Forward, to handle independent expenditures like ad buys.

“I don’t think it will be an enormous expenditure of money from Third Way. But I do think it will be an enormous expenditure of money from our allies,” he said.

Democrats were relieved Thursday when No Labels said it was unable to find a candidate to lead its ticket, which Democrats believed would have ultimately siphoned votes from Biden.

But the moment was short-lived. Epting said MoveOn has reassigned its No Labels-focused team to Kennedy, and that it will be bringing on additional staff “to help us focus on the Robert F. Kennedy challenge and really drive our campaigning.”

Anyone who divides the anti-Trump coalition is dangerous, Bennett said.

“The Trump ceiling is low, but his floor is hard. He is much less vulnerable to third parties than Biden, whose ceiling is much higher, but whose floor is softer, as well as know,” he said. “We don’t know exactly who RFK helps more, but we believe that anybody who offers an alternative is really offering an alternative to Biden more than to Trump.”

Kennedy’s coalition is largely still a mystery, and polling suggests he has the ability to take away nearly as many votes from Trump as from Biden.

Kennedy’s campaign, in a statement to HuffPost, called Trump and Biden “the two most unpopular candidates in living memory.”

“We are planning on being a spoiler for both President Biden and President Trump. We also plan to be a spoiler for the war machine, Wall Street, Big Ag, Big Tech, Big Pharma, Big Energy, and the corporate media,” campaign spokesperson Stefanie Spear said.

In an address to No Labels supporters Friday, former Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat and top official with the group, said No Labels is looking for ways to move forward with its political project. He said that while disappointing, their efforts ultimately revealed that many Americans are tired of the two-party system.

“We continue to be correct in our assessment that the two major candidates both are running divisive campaigns,” Nixon said. “Neither is presenting to us, to America, a vision of unity. A majority of this country does not have anyone they’re excited to vote for, and it is likely that no matter who wins we will be entering a dangerous phase for our country.”

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