Dems continue to worry about third-party candidates

In yet another sign that mainstream Democrats fear that third-party candidates will throw the election to former president Donald Trump in November, the pro–Joe Biden group Citizens to Save Our Republic urged third-party candidates on Tuesday to sign a pledge that they will withdraw their names from six swing-state ballots by the summer if they don’t meet certain polling and ballot-qualification criteria by July 1.

CSOR’s monthslong pressure campaign comes as the president continues to poll evenly or below Trump, the GOP’s likely 2024 presidential nominee, in most head-to-head matchups less than a year out from Election Day. Tuesday’s pledge appeared to take special aim at independent candidate Cornel West, Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Democrat-turned-independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and, of course, No Labels, the nonprofit advocacy group that has spent millions on ballot-access efforts to potentially name a centrist third-party ticket in 2024.

“Signing this pledge does not cause anyone to abandon their campaign. They can continue their campaign in all states except the swing states and get their message out to the American people,” Citizens to Save Our Republican co-founder Dick Gephardt, the former Democratic House minority leader, said on a call with reporters on Tuesday. He added that the group is uniformly concerned that third-party candidates “will help elect Donald Trump and cause American democracy to cease.”

CSOR has yet to throw real money behind its effort, raising just over $200,000 since the summer and ending 2023 with roughly $26,000 on hand. The group launched a small $100,000 ad buy in Washington, D.C.’s media market in December characterizing all third-party presidential candidates in 2024 as spoilers for Trump, and it has released polling to the same effect. A spokesman for the group told NR on Tuesday that CSOR has no firm plans on additional advertising beyond that December ad buy.

Tuesday’s pledge from CSOR is very unlikely to have any impact on third-party candidates’ decision-making process. Just last month, allies of No Labels announced the formation of a new super PAC, New Leaders 2024, formed to support the 501(c)(4) group’s so-called unity ticket “should one be named in the coming weeks.”

New Leaders 2024 co-founder and Republican strategist Rob Stutzman said last week that the No Labels effort is watching former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley’s GOP campaign closely and likely will not move forward with a “unity ticket” if the former South Carolina governor somehow manages to block Trump from winning the nomination. (Haley’s path remains incredibly narrow after she lost to Trump in both Iowa and New Hampshire last month and as she approaches her home-state primary on February 24 in South Carolina, where she trails the former president in polls.)

“This is still Nikki Haley’s field,” Stutzman said. “There’s still some degree of curiosity with what she’s doing, and we like the message that she’s carrying right now. And we don’t want to prematurely preempt her run and her ability to run against Trump without other competing interests entering the fray.”

If No Labels decides to put up a unity ticket this cycle, the group’s candidates are expected to face a grueling opposition-research and public-humiliation campaign from Biden-aligned Democratic groups.

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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