Before the centrist No Labels political organization can even think about fielding a third-party candidate in the 2024 presidential election, it must first get on the ballot in all 50 states.
No Labels has submitted a petition that was approved by the Wyoming Secretary of State’s office to gather signatures to get on the 2024 general election ballot as a political party in the Cowboy State. The group now has a Wyoming-based chairperson and treasurer and is actively gathering signatures, going door-to-door in certain communities.
Teton County residents Jane Bobbitt Hill and Richard Holwill represent the local leadership for the group.
Getting on the Wyoming ballot is a relatively low bar compared to some other states. The magic number No Labels must achieve to be included on the ballot is 3,891 signatures by June 1, 2024.
No Labels is a political organization dedicated to bipartisanship and centerism in politics. Although the group’s origins go back to congressional-focused activity in 2010, No Labels has gained momentum for its efforts to put up a third-party 2024 presidential candidate under the umbrella of a “unity ticket.”
During a Tuesday press call, former Democratic Missouri Governor and Attorney General, and now No Labels staff member, Jay Nixon said he believes America is at an important juncture where it could be open to a third-party candidate.
“I have seen what can happen if you have a divided government, but they have a united commitment toward moving things forward,” said Nixon. “And I think No Labels presents America at this time in our history with the best chance to have that occur.”
Nixon said his group sees an opportunity in Wyoming because of the state’s independent-minded culture.
“There may be a lot of folks voting the red line now and then maybe for the future, but on something like this where you get people a legitimate, serious, thoughtful, centrist bipartisan ticket, and give them the resources and the opportunity that this is, I think we’re in a real interesting opportunity,” he said.
Ryan Clancy, chief strategist for No Labels, said his group has data showing that about 60% of Americans are open to an Independent ticket candidate. That data shows that about 32% of supporters of the established candidates will vote for them no matter what.
“The opening for an Independent ticket begins with the simple fact that (President) Joe Biden and (former President) Donald Trump are historically weak candidates with really soft bases,” Clancy said.
On Oct. 3, No Labels sent a mass email to Democratic county parties in Wyoming, expressing concern that the Democratic National Committee is sharing guidance with its state and local party chairs to denounce No Labels.
Laramie County Democratic Party Chair Jordan Evans said he received the email and isn’t taking No Labels seriously because it isn’t an active political party at a local level.
Wyoming Democratic Party Chair Joe Barbuto said he doesn’t see No Labels inclusion on the state’s ballot making much of an impact on results in Wyoming, which voted for Trump by an overwhelming margin in 2016 and 2020.
“Speaking more generally, however, I share the concerns of many others across the nation about the secrecy surrounding who is financially backing their organization, what their actual goals might be, and the potential they have to act as spoilers in the 2024 presidential race,” Barbuto said. “With that in mind, and considering we're at a point when American Democracy is on the line, I can't support any endeavor that serves to benefit Donald Trump.”
Democrats and Republicans both criticize the group as aiming to serve up a spoiler candidate to their preferred presidential nominees. Biden, in a recent interview with ProPublica, said a No Labels candidacy would “help the other guy.”
Some of the group’s donors also have raised eyebrows in Democratic circles.
Conservative mega donor Harlan Crow was previously considered a “whale” donor by the organization. The New Republic obtained a document showing that between 2019 and 2021, Crow donated more than $130,000 to the group.
Nixon said the goal of the group is not to favor either Biden or Trump, but rather to get its own candidate elected. If it becomes obvious the organization doesn’t have a path to victory, he said the candidate should drop out.
“This is not a campaign designed to spoil,” Nixon said. “The only message that this campaign is trying to send is to the vast majority of Americans that want change and want responsible, capable, experienced people running it that we can provide that kind of ticket to them.”
No third-party candidate has received a significant number of votes in a presidential election since Ross Perot captured nearly 20% of the vote in 1992. Former Green Party candidate Ralph Nader is largely considered one of the biggest spoiler candidates of all time for the 3.9% of votes he received in the 2000 election, which former President George W. Bush won by an extremely small margin.
Although the incumbent president has traditionally held a natural advantage in American presidential elections, many recent polls show Democrats and swing voters expressing weak or passive support for Biden, while the leading Republican candidate Trump is garnering a more impassioned following from his base.
According to The New York Times, the group is spending $60 million to get a No Labels ticket on the ballot in all 50 states, and Clancy said they have qualified for the ballot in 12 so far, including presidential election battlegrounds of Arizona, Nevada and North Carolina. The group plans to spend about half of the money on securing ballot access across the nation.
“Our plan is to get on as many ballots, red, blue, purple, whatever state, and all the ones that we can,” said Nancy Jacobson, founder and CEO of No Labels. “There’s no hidden strategy, this has to be a candidate that competes in all 50 states.”
Clancy said the group has gathered more than 800,000 signatures nationwide and has identified about 25 states where it believes it has a real shot of winning in the Midwest’s Rust Belt and more southern Sun Belt regions.
Liz Cheney Ticket?
No Labels plans to announce its potential candidates for president at a convention in Dallas next March.
Nixon wouldn’t rule out the possibility of former Wyoming congressman Liz Cheney running on a No Labels ticket.
“There are a lot of people out there that saw her stand at a time in which a lot of other people didn’t want to,” Nixon said. “That act of courage is something that in a number of people’s minds sets her apart in a positive way.”
Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.