John R. Smith: “No Labels” Party Might Offer Presidential Candidate in 2024

No Labels is a political organization with a mission to support “problem-solving” and “bipartisanship and political centrism”. The group was formed about 12 years ago. No Labels announced in July that it intends to raise $70 million so it can put a third-party “unity ticket” on the presidential ballot next year. Senator Joe Manchin and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman have been mentioned as possible candidates. Former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman is the founding Chairman of the No Labels Party.

The Party’s position is that 70% of Americans are somewhat fed up with politics in America, frustrated with both the Democratic and Republican parties and their leading Presidential contenders, so they are developing about 30 different “common sense” policy decisions. No Labels says it has no interest in being a spoiler but they do not want the White House to go to either Joe Biden or Donald Trump.

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Major differences of opinion exist about whether a third-party challenge by No Labels is a greater threat to Trump or to Biden. Some political mavens say that the danger for Democrats is that young people and blacks–two major voting blocs– are not very enthusiastic about Biden and could shift to a third party. Other political operatives say the Republicans have a similar problem: No Labels could provide an alternative for Republican voters concerned about Trump’s personal conduct and his “baggage” but who refuse to vote for a Dem. Even though Trump is the current Republican front-runner, a sizable number of Rs may not stay with him in the General Election, especially if there is a Reagan-type Republican on the No Labels ticket.

Some local political consultants say that while No Labels can hope, their Presidential ticket wouldn’t have any chance of winning, and an independent candidate would materially boost Trump’s chances to win if he is the Republican nominee. Polls taken so far also point in that direction, that the net effect would be to undermine Biden’s prospects against Trump.

The potential effect of the No Labels policy-issues agenda is difficult to assess. So far, many of its recommended policy decisions are vague. Some have little chance to become enacted because of political realities. But No Labels is correct that voters deserve a more productive political conversation than the Ds and the Rs are offering.

One problem No Labels has is that minor party candidates may not qualify to be on the ballots of some states. It is possible for a 3rd party or minor party presidential candidate to be on one state’s voting ballot, but not others. It depends on state law. Each state has its own laws on the qualification requirements to appear on their ballot. Most states require a certain number of petitions signed by voters in their state, for a presidential candidate to be included on their ballot. In Florida, rules for qualifying for the ballot depend upon whether the minor party is affiliated or not affiliated with a national party holding a national convention. In either event the minor party must submit to the state the names of 29 persons to serve as electors; if the minor party is not affiliated with a national party, it must submit petitions signed by 132,781 registered electors.

A No Labels ticket could put both Rs and Ds at risk in a 3-way election. Such a contest would give us an exciting wild ride, wilder than most of us have ever seen.

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