The Arizona Democratic Party said Thursday it is suing to keep the business-friendly centrist group “No Labels” from being recognized as a political party with the ability to place candidates on the state’s ballot.
The lawsuit is an effort to keep a third-party candidate from playing a spoiler role in 2024, when Arizona – where President Joe Biden edged former President Donald Trump out by just 10,000 votes in 2020 – is poised to be a critical presidential swing state.
Democrats have also fretted that independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who left the Democratic Party last year, could also seek reelection on the “No Labels” party line, reducing the number of signatures she would need to qualify for the ballot.
The Arizona Democratic Party said it filed a complaint in Maricopa County court against Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, a Democrat who earlier this month recognized the No Labels Party – granting it the ability to place candidates on primary and general election ballots – after saying the group had met the minimum signature requirement. Fontes’ office on Thursday did not respond to a request for comment.
No Labels is registered as a non-profit and does not disclose its donors – which the state party argued means it does not meet the requirements for a political party, including disclosing donors, registering with the Federal Election Commission and following contribution limits.
“No Labels is not following the rules for political party recognition, while attempting to be placed on the ballot alongside actual, functioning political parties who do,” Arizona Democratic Party executive director Morgan Dick said in a statement.
No Labels chief strategist Ryan Clancy shot back that the state party’s actions are hypocritical.
“This undemocratic and unscrupulous lawsuit is a disgrace,” he said in a statement posted on No Labels’ Twitter account. “Next time you hear this crowd talking about protecting democracy, remember what they are really doing is protecting their turf.”
The group added on Twitter: “Trying to silence the voters of Arizona is immoral and blatantly un-American.”
The Arizona Democrats’ move comes amid concerns that a No Labels candidate could siphon more votes away from Biden’s expected reelection bid in 2024 than it would from the Republican nominee. Already, No Labels has qualified for ballot access in Arizona, Colorado and Oregon, and the group is seeking spots on the ballot in several other key swing states.
The centrist group Third Way said in a memo earlier this month that No Label’s hopes of winning in 2024 are “an illusion.”
“No Labels is committed to fielding a candidate that will, intentionally or not, provide a crucial boost to Republicans – and a major obstacle to Biden,” the Third Way memo said. “As a result, they’ll make it far more likely – if not certain – that Donald Trump returns to the White House.”
No Labels communications deputy Maryanne Martini, in a fundraising email this week, described the group’s actions as an “insurance policy” for 2024.
“We’ve run the numbers with polling and modeling in all 50 states, and our latest numbers show an independent could win outright in the Electoral College, and that they would draw votes equally from both sides,” Martini said. “This is why we’re collecting signatures, recruiting volunteers, and laying the groundwork for an independent ticket IF, and ONLY IF, both parties put up unappealing candidates for the next presidential election.”