Nov 29, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: No Labels abandons its in-person presidential convention

Illustration of Uncle Sam with a cursor hand

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

No Labels — the bipartisan group plotting a third-party presidential bid — is pulling the plug on its Dallas convention next spring and will instead conduct its "selection process virtually," Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The group hasn't made a final decision on whether or not to launch a third-party challenge, which Democratic critics argue could throw the election to former President Trump.

  • Canceling its Dallas convention will give No Labels more flexibility — and more time — to make that determination.
  • It will also allow more candidates to potentially emerge and challenge the status quo.

What they're saying: "No Labels' goal has always been to get on the ballot and select a Unity ticket that can win outright in the Electoral College," the group said in a statement to Axios.

  • "We have no intention of doing anything but that, and every step we make is with that goal in mind."
  • "This is why No Labels has decided to conduct our selection process virtually with our members from across the country. No Labels has lately spoken to numerous exceptional leaders interested in being on the Unity ticket, and more continue to emerge each week."

Zoom out: No Labels' previous plan was to use the period between Super Tuesday on March 5 and the Dallas convention that had been set for April 14-15 to listen to supporters and then make a final decision on whether to launch a third-party ticket.

  • If a decision had been reached to move forward, the goal was to use the convention to select a unity ticket — one Republican and one Democrat — then slingshot them into the presidential contest with fanfare and free media.
  • "We already have scheduled a bipartisan convention. Think about it. We haven't seen that ever in recent history," former Sen. Joe Lieberman, co-chair of No Labels, said on "Fox News Sunday" in August. "A bipartisan nominating convention for Dallas, Texas, in April of next year."

Zoom in: Despite canceling the convention, the group's organizers are still moving forward with gaining ballot access — and claim No Labels will be viable in 27 states by the end of the year.

  • The White House has mostly ignored the group, though privately there's growing concern in Democratic circles that a No Labels ticket will siphon votes away from President Biden.

Between the lines: The group had contemplated requiring a donation of at least $100 to be eligible to cast a ballot in Dallas, the Associated Press reported.

  • The group still hasn't decided who will get to vote — or help select — its candidates.
  • Publicly, the group says it hasn't made a determination on whether a Republican or Democrat will be the presidential nominee, though its polling indicates that a Republican might do better in key swing states.

What to watch: In explaining its decision to abandon Dallas, the group insisted that it would afford them more options and will allow them to be more inclusive.

  • "A virtual process affords us the flexibility to assess how the major party primaries unfold, whether No Labels should offer a ticket, and who should be on it. It also enables more No Labels members from all walks of life to participate without being burdened by the costs of traveling to an in-person gathering," the statement said.
  • "We will have more details on our selection process early next year and look forward to hearing the views of our community on who they want to see on a Unity ticket in 2024."
  • "It's clear Americans want the choice No Labels is preparing to provide for the 2024 presidential election. In fact, over 1,000,000 voters have now signed No Labels petitions to put us on the ballot. By the end of this year, we will be qualified for the ballot or actively gathering signatures in 27 states."
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