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No Labels says it won’t run a 3rd-party campaign

Updated April 4, 2024 - 1:02 pm

NEW YORK — The No Labels group said Thursday it will not field a presidential candidate in November after strategists for the bipartisan organization failed to attract a high-profile centrist willing to seize on the widespread dissatisfaction with President Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

“No Labels has always said we would only offer our ballot line to a ticket if we could identify candidates with a credible path to winning the White House,” Nancy Jacobson, the group’s CEO, said in a statement sent out to allies. “No such candidates emerged, so the responsible course of action is for us to stand down.”

The announcement leaves anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as the most prominent independent candidate in the 2024 presidential race.

No Labels’ decision, which comes just days after the death of founding chairman Joe Lieberman, caps months of discussions during which the group raised tens of millions of dollars from a donor list it has kept secret. While No Labels’ decision may disappoint people seeking a potentially viable third-party option, it came as a relief to Democrats who have long feared that a No Labels ticket would undermine Biden’s coalition and help Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee.

It also further cements a general election rematch this fall between the Democratic incumbent and the former president. Many voters do not have favorable views of Biden and Trump, a dynamic that No Labels had sought to address.

The Wall Street Journal first reported No Labels’ decision.

“Millions of Americans are relieved that No Labels finally decided to do the right thing to keep Donald Trump out of the White House,” said MoveOn executive director Rahna Epting, a No Labels’ critic. “Now, it’s time for Robert Kennedy Jr. to see the writing on the wall that no third party has a path forward to winning the presidency. We must come together to defeat the biggest threat to our democracy and country: Donald Trump.”

Kennedy’s campaign had no immediate response, although he announced earlier in the week that he had qualified for the general election in five states, including swing states Nevada and North Carolina.

No Labels said it had qualified for the ballot in 21 states, but ultimately, the centrist group could not persuade a top-tier moderate from either party to embrace its movement.

No Labels delegates voted overwhelmingly in March to launch the process of creating a bipartisan presidential and vice presidential ticket. But by then, No Labels had been rejected, publicly and privately, by many Democratic or Republican candidates.

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who suspended her campaign for the GOP presidential nomination last month, had said she would not consider running on the No Labels ticket. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., ruled out running and former Gov. Larry Hogan, R-Md., decided to run for U.S. Senate.

Last month, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican candidate for president in 2024, said he wouldn’t run under the No Label banner, either.

The group had been weighing the nomination of a “unity ticket,” with a presidential candidate from one major party and a vice presidential candidate from the other, to appeal to voters unhappy with Biden and Trump.

Biden supporters had worried No Labels would pull votes away from the president in battleground states and had been critical of how the group would not disclose its donors or much about its decision-making. No Labels never named all of its delegates and most of its deliberations took place in secret.

Dan DuPraw, a 33-year-old sales worker in Philadelphia who would have been a delegate to a No Labels convention, said the decision was disappointing but prudent. He trusts the No Labels leadership to make the right call.

“I understand why they made the decision, and I think it’s the right thing to do in this moment,” DuPraw said. “But I’m so disappointed that we get Trump and Biden again. I think it’s such a horrible thing for our country.”

Cooper reported from Phoenix.

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