The Democratic think tank Third Way has grown increasingly alarmed by an effort to field a third-party candidate in 2024, saying the push by the No Labels political organization would pose a "major obstacle" to President Joe Biden and could help return former President Donald Trump to the White House.
Jim Kessler, Third Way's executive vice president for policy, told Insider his analysis of No Labels' effort to field a "unity ticket" in 2024 shows the group is targeting every state that Biden won in a close election.
"I've been tracking what No Labels is doing, and at a certain point concluded, this is real and it's going to hurt Biden and help Trump," Kessler said. 'This is not going to be a neutral effort."
No Labels has been working to provide an option to nominate an independent presidential candidate in 2024, calling it "an insurance policy" in case both major political parties nominate a candidate that most Americans oppose, the group said in a statement released Thursday.
Republican candidates who have declared their 2024 candidacies so far include Trump, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. Biden has not yet declared his candidacy but is expected to do so soon.
"No Labels itself will not run a candidate, but we will have the launching pad, specifically in the form of ballot access across the country," No Labels said in a statement.
The group released its statement after Third Way published a memo, stating that the candidate it eventually backs can't win the presidency. Since 1900, it noted in its memo, third-party candidates "didn't win enough electoral votes in sum to win one election."
But No Labels insisted its polling shows an independent would draw votes equally from both major parties and could win. If there isn't a path to victory, its says its won't offer its ballot line to any presidential ticket.
"No one at No Labels has any interest in fueling a spoiler effort," it wrote. A spokesperson could not be reached for comment.
Kessler pointed to a map, published by a Delaware news outlet, showing 23 states that No Labels had identified as "unity states" in a potential bipartisan bid to win 270-plus Electoral College votes in 2024.
Of 23 states they say its will win, 19 of those states Biden won in 2020, he said. Among them is Delaware, Biden's home state, which he represented in the Senate for 36 years.
"Of course they're not going to win Delaware. They're not going to win anywhere," he said. "So the question is, if they're not going to win, who are they going to hurt? And it's Biden."
The hope of Third Way – a center-left group – is to dissuade Democrats from signing onto the effort or running on the ticket, Kessler said.
"The first thing we're doing is sounding the alarm," he said, and making the case "that this effort cannot succeed, unless the goal of No Labels is to make sure Joe Biden
As of September 2022, No Labels told New York Times columnist David Brooks its project was a $70 million effort and it had raised or received pledges for a total of more than $46 million.
"Our argument would be okay, I get it, if you think that Democrats are going to nominate someone far to the left," Kessler said. "But we know who they're going to nominate. It's one of the most centrist Democrats in the party, Joe Biden
, we know who that is. You know, you should be happy."