The corporate-backed group No Labels, of which Maine Sen. Susan Collins is an honorary chair, is attempting to enroll Mainers in its party to get on the state’s ballot in 2024.
The organization has announced plans to field a centrist presidential candidate in all 50 states on a new “unity ticket,” prompting fear that a third-party run could serve as a spoiler and help re-elect former President Donald Trump.
The Maine Secretary of State’s Office confirmed to Beacon that the group has begun soliciting Maine voters to enroll in its No Labels Party to establish a ballot line in Maine. Under state statute, they need 5,000 voters enrolled in the party by Jan. 2 to hold primary elections in 2024.
Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported that No Labels launched its $70 million campaign to establish a presidential ballot line as an “insurance policy” against both Democrats and Republicans should either nominate a candidate it deems “unacceptable.” The group has already won ballot status in Arizona, Colorado, Oregon and Alaska.
“With the extremes on both sides dominating the primaries,” a video explaining the campaign says, “the two parties are on a path to nominating candidates most eligible voters will find unacceptable.”
Former Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman, a business lobbyist and co-chair of the group, suggested to the Post that the bid could also be leveraged to push the two major parties to commit to its “common-sense, moderate, independent platform.”
Like Third Way before it, No Labels bills itself as a middle-of-the-road political organization established to advance bipartisan “practical solutions” for the “exhausted majority” of voters fed up with gridlock and party labels. But numerous media reports since its founding in 2010 have illustrated that those “moderate” policy solutions have typically protected corporate interests and the status quo.
According to internal documents obtained by the Daily Beast in 2018, No Labels has been backed by billionaire investors and corporate executives, among them the late Republican mega-donor David Koch, former AIG CEO Hank Greenberg, billionaire hedge-fund manager Paul Singer, as well as top Trump supporters such as PayPal founder Peter Thiel, businessman Foster Friess and Home Depot founder Ken Langone.
The New Republic also recently obtained a document showing that Texas real estate magnate and GOP patron Harlan Crow gave $130,000 to No Labels between 2019 and 2021. The document shows that Crow — who ProPublica recently revealed has lavished conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas with gifts, including luxury vacations and a home for his mother — is considered a “whale” level donor by the organization.
No Labels’ agenda
Collins and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat who has made millions in the coal industry, were selected as honorary co-chairs of No Labels in 2017.
In February, Collins and Manchin headlined a No Labels conference in Miami where the goal was to align centrist lawmakers on the congressional session ahead and stratigize on issues such as the debt ceiling and immigration.
In 2021, in addition to opposing efforts to end or reform the anti-democratic Senate filibuster, No Labels put their support behind Manchin and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a conservative Democrat turned independent, to block President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act. The sweeping spending package contained $1.85 trillion for child care, health care, family leave, climate change mitigation, immigration reform and a host of other Democratic priorities.
In the House, the path to passing Build Back Better was slowed by the 40-some member “Problem Solvers Caucus,” which is sponsored by No Labels and led by Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick and New Jersey Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer. Dubbed the “Unbreakable Nine,” Maine Rep. Jared Golden joined with other members of the caucus in refusing to vote for Biden’s social spending bill.
As Beacon previously reported, political action committees associated with No Labels were among Golden’s top donors in 2021.
Influence Watch points out that most of the policies No Labels and the Problem Solvers Caucus have advocated for are procedural reforms in Congress to limit the power of the majority party — thereby diminishing the chance for bold policies that threaten business as usual.
“In November 2018, the Problem Solvers Caucus pressured then-House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) into accepting numerous rule changes which would grant more legislative influence to the minority party,” a profile composed by the watchdog group reads.
The profile also outlines some of the business-friendly policies the group has fought for: “In August 2017, the Problem Solvers Caucus released a proposal to amend the proposed American Healthcare Act which included a government stabilizing fund to compensate insurance companies for rising costs imposed by pre-existing medical conditions, and the elimination of a medical device tax. The bill ultimately was not passed.”