Corporate ‘centrist’ third party could spoil 2024


In 2024, a new supposedly “centrist” political organization may run a “unity” presidential ticket. No Labels is already on the ballot as a party in Colorado, Arizona, Oregon and Alaska. They have raised $70 million and refuse to name their donors. They plan to get on the ballot in all 50 states.

No Labels insists that the two major parties are captured by crazy extremists. A video sent out to donors and potential supporters obtained by The New Republic warns, “With the extremes on both sides dominating the primaries, the two parties are on a path to nominating candidates most eligible voters will find unacceptable.” As ominous music plays, you see Donald Trump, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Joe Biden isn’t even mentioned in the video. When leaders of No Labels are asked if they think Biden is unacceptable to them, they have a wait-and-see attitude.

In a recent Washington Post op-ed, the leaders of three ideologically divergent, pro-Democratic Party groups (Third Way, MoveOn and the Center for American Progress Action Fund) denounced No Labels for equating Trump and Biden and argued that Biden has been responsible for significant and necessary bipartisan legislation. They said a No Labels candidate would most likely help elect Trump.

Actually, No Labels’ own poll shows “Democrats, liberals and urban voters to be more open to a moderate independent candidate than Republicans, conservatives or rural voters.”

No Labels supports balancing the national budget, reducing business regulations and shifting federal programs to the states.

No Labels criticized the Jan. 6 committee as “a partisan exercise about which the public is skeptical” and compared it unfavorably with the Republican-dominated special committee that investigated the 2012 Benghazi attack on a U.S. embassy.

No Labels publicly opposed Biden’s Build Back Better (BBB) legislation, which included efforts to fight climate change, raise the corporate tax rate, expand the Child Tax Credit and improve healthcare.

Two Democratic senators, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, were able to force big cuts in BBB due to the Democrats’ slim majority in the Senate. During the legislative process, No Labels praised Sinema for her “heroic efforts” and ran ads supporting Manchin “hit[ting] the brakes on BBB.” The Intercept reported that the group hosted Manchin at a “billionaire-backed gathering” in Los Angeles during BBB negotiations.

The BBB was killed and we got the Inflation Reduction Act, which doesn’t go as far but provides for lower prescription drugs for seniors, higher taxes for corporations, more IRS law and order for rich tax cheats. It is also the biggest federal climate change bill in history. Well, that’s a low bar. It’s the only real climate change bill ever enacted.

This March, news website Semafor reported that some Wall Street backers of Biden in 2020 are “holding back” on supporting him in 2024, “citing rules proposed by his Securities and Exchange Commission that target the financial services industry.”

Biden’s approach to financial regulation “has left a sense of buyer’s remorse.” Financial industry lobbyists are reportedly “beyond frustrated.”

No Labels doesn’t have to disclose who its sugar daddies are. However, in 2018, The Daily Beast obtained a leaked donor list including billionaires in the private equity, hedge fund, real estate, and oil and gas industries. Republican megadonors are courted.

The group’s CEO, Nancy Jacobson, was a fundraiser for both Bill and Hillary Clinton, and her husband, corporate consultant Mark Penn, was a top Clinton campaign advisor.

No Labels is co-chaired by lobbyist and former Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut (who was a Democrat and then an Independent) and Larry Hogan, the former Republican governor of Maryland. Manchin and Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine are “honorary co-chairs.”

No Labels is very vague about its stances on major policy issues. Campaign finance lawyer Brendan Fischer told The Lever that this leaves a lot of room for wheeling and dealing.

“At this point, No Labels isn’t saying what ‘values and commitments’ they are looking for from a major party candidate,” he said. “This raises the specter of No Labels officials or donors using this leverage to extract backroom concessions.”

Manchin has praised No Labels’ strategy and hasn’t ruled out running for president in 2024 on their ballot line. Meanwhile, Manchin and Sinema seemed to be allied with Republicans in their reckless debt ceiling brinkmanship.

This opinion does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.