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No Labels announces committee to select presidential candidate

The centrist group No Labels announced a committee of 12 people Thursday who will decide in the coming weeks who should appear on the group’s potential third-party presidential ticket.

Led by co-chairs of the group — including former senator Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), retired Navy Adm. Dennis Blair and civil rights activist Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. — the committee will then take its recommendation to a separate group of No Labels supporters that is prepared to formally nominate the ticket on 48 hours’ notice.

“The committee will consider input from the No Labels community and serve as representatives in meeting with potential candidates,” Mike Rawlings, the group’s national convention chair, a former Dallas mayor and top executive at Pizza Hut, said in a video posted online.

The announcement comes a day after the resignation of another co-chair of the group, former North Carolina governor Pat McCrory (R), for reasons that have not been fully explained in public. “I wish them the best,” he said in a statement to the Wall Street Journal.

It also comes days after No Labels started serious conversations with former Georgia lieutenant governor Geoff Duncan (R). Duncan traveled to Sea Island, Ga., last weekend, where leaders of the American Enterprise Institute think tank were holding their annual donor retreat. He held off-site meetings there with potential supporters about a possible No Labels candidacy, according to multiple people familiar with the meetings, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.

In a sharp contrast with 2016, Democrats and party allies are taking third-party and independent candidates seriously this election cycle. These efforts have included hiring staff members at the Democratic National Committee, filing federal and state complaints about ballot access moves by independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and forming a super PAC called Clear Choice aimed at blocking candidates from gaining traction.

Rawlings said any No Labels nominees had to agree with the principles of the group, which is organized as a nonprofit that does not disclose its donors. Nominees also had to endorse a platform document, called “A Common Sense Agenda,” that the group released last year.

“Once a unity ticket is nominated, No Labels’ work is done and the unity ticket will assume the task of building a campaign and capturing the hearts and minds of the American people,” Rawlings said.

The nominating committee also includes people from diverse backgrounds, such as Dan Webb, a high-profile lawyer who defended Fox News against a lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems; Kay Yeager, former mayor of Wichita Falls, Tex.; and Susan Magee, a hypnotherapist. Campaign finance records show some committee members had donated to other candidates this cycle, including former New Jersey governor Chris Christie (R) and Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), who mounted a primary challenge to President Biden.

Lieberman said in an interview on Wednesday that the group would have the ability to stop a candidacy from moving forward after a few months if it failed to gain traction and appeared to be a possible spoiler that could help elect former president Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee.

“We want to give the American people the third choice — bipartisan, moderate — that they say they want,” Lieberman said. “But if for some reason after two or three months, they say they don’t want it, we have got to be realistic and say, ‘This is not the year.’”

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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