Former Sen. Joe Lieberman poses for a portrait in Beijing on October 15, 2023.
Jill Sablier | Washington Post | Getty Images
No Labels founder Joe Lieberman is willing to scrap his work bipartisana third-party presidential ticket if the nonprofit political organization is unable to identify a suitable candidate in the coming months.
No Labels has so far secured ballot access in 12 states for a potential “unitary ticket” featuring Democrats and Republicans seeking to mend partisan divisions in Washington.
“We will only do this if it is constructive and if we can bring about real change in government and politics,” Lieberman told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Tuesday. “And secondly, are we able to get top-notch candidates?”
Otherwise, he said, the group would halt the effort.
“We’re going to have to make some tough decisions in the coming months,” the former senator from Connecticut added.
No Labels is in the early stages of formally launching a candidate review committee and aims to recommend candidates in March or April if the group decides to use the Unity Ticket.
Potential candidates for the ticket include Sen. Joe Manchin and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan. Manchin has received particular attention due to his announcement that he would not run for the Senate, and his separate comments that he was considering running for president.
However, No Labels has not yet officially named a candidate. One reason for this is that potential candidates contacted did not sign on immediately.
“We’re starting to individually reach out to people who we think would be great candidates and ask them if they’re interested. So far, we haven’t had anyone say ‘no,’ but we’re saying, ‘Yes. There’s no one to say, ‘I’m ready,”’ Lieberman said.
Despite Unity Ticket’s obscurity, No Labels is gaining momentum with the backing of a wealthy donor base, with revenue doubling last year compared to 2021. The company’s nonprofit status means it doesn’t have to disclose its donors and has no donation limits. It also means that No Labels cannot directly contribute to political campaigns.
“Let me assure you all that No Labels does is help you qualify to vote,” Lieberman said.
Super PACs associated with groups can contribute to campaigns.
No Labels has come under intense criticism from Democrats over its experiment with third-party tickets, with no guarantees that the Unity Ticket would even defeat Republican front-runner Donald Trump, who is currently running for President Joe Biden. It could derail a re-election campaign.
Mr. Lieberman sought to allay those fears in October. Editorial In the Wall Street Journal. He said polling shows that unlabeled tickets attract voters equally from both parties.