No Labels’ new, unofficial motto: ‘No Democrats’

In a Zoom call last month, Ryan Clancy, chief strategist for the supposedly centrist political group No Labels, admitted that their potential “bipartisan” “unity” presidential ticket doesn’t need to have a Democrat on it.

“And what if it’s a Republican and an independent? I think that’s certainly possible,” he told participants in the Dec. 20 “Common Sense Talks With Ryan Clancy” event, according to a recording obtained by HuffPost. Common sense, you see, means excluding Democrats unless they are “Democrats” like former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman (who turned independent to hang on to his seat after losing the Democratic primary in 2006) or West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, perennial spoiler of Democratic policies.

This isn’t entirely new for the group. After all, they indicated last June that if the Republican nominee ended up being Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, they’d probably back down and not field a spoiler candidate. They’re okay with fascism, you see, unless it’s coming from Donald Trump. That’s just common sense, No Labels-style.

One of their prominent spokespeople, former GOP Rep. Fred Upton admitted in an interview with CBS News last July that if it ends up being President Joe Biden vs. Donald Trump on November’s ballot, No Labels is aiming “to actually have a Republican presidential candidate and a Democrat [sic] vice presidential” candidate.

Most of the group’s funding is kept in the dark. It’s one of those political “charities” that have flourished since the Supreme Court decided Citizens United v. FEC. As a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization, No Labels doesn’t have to disclose donors. But digging by investigative reporters has revealed at least some of them.

One of their “whale” donors is none other than Harlan Crow, the New Republic found. You know, Supreme Court Clarence Thomas’ billionaire benefactor. The New Republic discovered that Crow gave more than $130,000 to No Labels between 2019 and 2021. In addition to his donations, Crow has participated in fundraisers for the group and has hooked No Labels up with about two dozen of his millionaire and billionaire friends, according to the documentation TNR found.

By the way, 501(c)(4) organizations are supposed to—by law—limit activities to the “promotion of social welfare” or lobbying. These groups are legally not allowed direct political involvement, like fielding candidates, as a primary activity. If trying to secure a slot on the presidential ballot for their third-party ticket in all 50 states is not their primary activity, it would be good to know what is. Beyond the grift, that is, because some people are making an awful lot of money out of this venture.

There’s some good news coming out of that December event, however. The rank-and-file membership of the group seems to be pretty concerned that No Labels will help elect Trump. One attendee said she’d “been a long supporter of No Labels” but was “having trouble trying to figure out how this is going to not reelect Trump.” That sentiment was reinforced by another attendee, who said that for him it was “absolutely the number one priority in 2024” that Trump lose.

“Love everybody at No Labels,” said John Leonard, the treasurer for the Raleigh, North Carolina, chapter of No Labels. “But I support what [the attendees] were saying earlier. … I really worry about the prospect of Biden losing support and Donald Trump being inadvertently elected in the Electoral College.”

Even No Labels members seem to be cottoning on to the fact that this really isn’t about bipartisanship and unity as it is spoiling 2024 for Joe Biden.


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