Wednesday, March 08, 2023


If you're like me, you sometimes forget which liberal-bashing "centrist" organization is No Labels and which one is Third Way. But now it's somewhat easier to remember, because Third Way is the group that doesn't want No Labels to help put Donald Trump back in the White House.
A new two-page memo from Third Way ... takes aim at the potential “unity ticket” being promoted by the centrist group No Labels. With tens of millions of dollars in financial backing, No Labels’ stated intention is to nominate a moderate alternative to potential extreme major-party nominees as an “insurance policy.”

But Third Way notes that No Labels has been cagey about what scenario would prompt it to move forward, including whether it would stand down if President JOE BIDEN seeks reelection. In any case, the memo argues, a third-party ticket would mainly peel off Democrats, ultimately boosting the former president who tried to steal an election and incited a riot on the Capitol.
From that Third Way memo:
The No Labels Third-Party Bid is Serious

* Money: No Labels told David Brooks for his NY Times column that this is a $70 million project, and they had more than $46 million pledged or raised as of September 2022.

* Personnel: They have more than 400 circulators actively collecting signatures.

* Ballot Access: They are on the ground seeking spots on the ballot in multiple states, including battlegrounds like Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, and Nevada, and claim they will compete in at least 23. They have already won ballot access in Colorado.
And today it was announced that they've qualified for a ballot line in Arizona.

No third-party candidate has won even a single state in a presidential election since George Wallace in 1968, and only explicitly racist third-party candidates have managed that feat since 1924 (George Wallace in '68 and Strom Thurmond in 1948). Nevertheless, No Labels thinks it can be competitive in enough states to win the presidency:

Yes, these folks think they could win deep-blue Illinois and Rhode Island, and also stubbornly red Florida and Texas. Keep dreaming, folks.

The upcoming election feels like one in which a very well-liked third-party candidate -- the national equivalent of Jesse Ventura in 1998 -- might be able to break through, given how tired voters say they are of Trump and Joe Biden. But I'm guessing that if No Labels goes through with this, it will pick someone who sets Beltway insiders' hearts a-flutter, but doesn't excite most Americans: Larry Hogan, who sure seems interested.
Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declined on Tuesday to close the door on a third-party presidential bid in 2024 after he said Sunday that he would not seek the Republican nomination.

Hogan clarified in an exclusive interview with ABC News that an independent presidential campaign is not something he's "actively" mulling, but he would not definitively say he would not wage one depending on who the Democratic and Republican nominees are.

... if Trump does win the GOP primary, Hogan said the centrist political group No Labels, of which he is an honorary co-chair, could cobble together a third-party ticket.
(Emphasis added.)

It seems as if he's ready to run. He's a Republican who was governor of a very Democratic state, but when he's been polled in recent months as a potential GOP presidential candidate, he's generally been picked by 0% or 1% of respondents. So maybe his vote totals would be so insignifcant that we wouldn't need to worry about him.

But a candidate who's more popular with Democratic voters -- for instance, MSNBC dream girl Liz Cheney -- would undoubtedly draw more voters from Democrats than Republicans, as polls have shown. That's the risk. That's a risk even with Hogan, if Democratic voters are wearier of Joe Biden than Republicans are of Trump (as some polls suggest).

But No Labels is fairly inscrutable. It's not clear whether running a candidate is even the point of this exercise.

No Labels is headed by Nancy Jacobson, a former top Democratic fund-raiser who's the wife of one of Fox News's favorite Democrats, pollster Mark Penn. As a December Politico story noted, No Labels is known as a terrible place to work.
Interviews with 14 former employees—including five who left in the last few months—and four other people familiar with No Labels reveals a cutthroat culture, one where staffers are routinely fired or pushed out, have little trust in management, and believe the workplace environment can be difficult for minority and female colleagues.

... Among their allegations:

* There is lingering discord over the decision to hire and ally with individuals who left prior jobs under allegations they’d sexually harassed women.
(One of the two alleged sexual harassers was Mark Halperin, who has, shockingly, been the highest-paid employee at No Labels. His departure was announced this week.)
... * Two female staffers recalled management telling female employees to dress more conservatively after a colleague was improperly touched by a male member of Congress at a No Labels event.
(Yup -- if a piggish congressman gropes you, apparently you must have done something to provoke him, according to No Labels. Allegedly.)

No Labels was founded by centrist Democrats, but it seems to get a lot of funding from Republicans these days:
Hedge fund manager Louis Bacon, a donor to Republicans including Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), began backing No Labels in 2018 when he gave $1 million to the organization’s associated PACs.... Billionaire Nelson Peltz was a heavy donor to President Donald Trump and gave $900,000 to New Labels’ associated PACs.
In early 2016, Trump and several other Republicans were declared "problem solvers" by No Labels:
The candidate who has vowed to bar Muslims from entering the U.S. and build a wall on the border with Mexico and who proposed a 45 percent tariff on imports from China has just been proclaimed a “problem solver” by No Labels....

In order to qualify for its Problem Solver Promise program, all Donald Trump had to do was sign a pledge that he would pursue one of the group’s core goals — a set of general fiscally related talking points — in the first “30 days” of his hypothetical presidency. Besides Trump, the other presidential candidates who signed on are Republicans Ben Carson, Rand Paul, Chris Christie and John Kasich and Democrat Martin O’Malley.
In 2017, when Trump was president and he and a GOP Congress set their sites on dismantling Obamacare, Jacobson -- with a little help from her husband -- castigated Democrats for not cooperating with the most extreme congressional Republicans:
As House Republicans were crafting their Obamacare repeal bill in the spring of 2017, Nancy Jacobson, the founder and CEO of No Labels, ... wanted to spice up her organization’s Twitter feed.

So she turned to someone known for provocative political takes: her husband, longtime political operative Mark Penn.

In a tweet that March, written under Penn’s direction, No Labels took the unconventional position that Democrats were to blame for not being more willing to work with Republicans in the destruction of their party’s signature piece of modern legislation.
Here's the (subsequently deleted) tweet:

But that's what you'd expect from a guy who, even though he's still described as a "Democratic pollster," conducts surveys that include GOP-friendly push-poll-style questions such as "Do you think Joe Biden should continue to press for significant expansions in entitlements or should he instead look to become more fiscally responsible?" and "Do you think the Justice Department is focusing enough on fighting gangs and crime syndicates or is it focusing too much on political offenses like January 6th and protecting school parents?"

It's clear that No Labels likes Republican-style policies -- but it's not clear that the group is good at promoting its agenda, although it does seem to be good at churning money, in ways that are sometimes puzzling...
No Labels ... has raised millions of dollars from undisclosed donors, but it’s unclear how far that money is going. Apparently some of those funds went toward making a music video to announce the six presidential Problem Solver Promise takers.
... and sometimes not so puzzling:
... while Jacobson has worked for years without compensation, No Labels has made payments to firms and entities that were owned or partially owned by Stagwell, the company headed by Jacobson’s husband, Penn. That includes Targeted Victory, which received more than $563,000 from 2017 to 2019 for its work as a “revenue processor,” according to the group’s 990 IRS forms, and Harris Telecom LLC, which received $428,100 for “media” in 2021, according to its 990.
Maybe the venality will save us from the ideology.

And if you're wondering, here's that music video:


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