By JONATHAN J. COOPER
PHOENIX (AP) — No Labels, which has pledged to create a pathway for an alternative candidate to run against the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees in 2024, will get a spot on the ballot in Arizona.
The presidential battleground state joins Colorado in recognizing No Labels as a political party. The group’s push for ballot access has angered Democrats and anti-Donald Trump Republicans, who worry a No Labels candidate couldn’t win but would tip the scales in favor of Trump or a Trump-like Republican.
No Labels says it is seeking ballot access in many states and will run a bipartisan “unity ticket” for president “if the two parties select unreasonably divisive presidential nominees.”
Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, a Democrat, notified the group on Tuesday that it turned in enough valid signatures to qualify as a political party under Arizona law. He said in a statement he’d work with county election officials to implement the change.
Even a small number of voters backing the No Labels candidate could be significant. President Joe Biden won three states by less than 1 percentage point in 2020.
The center-left group Third Way said in a memo, first reported by Politico, that Biden won voters who didn’t like either major party candidate by 15 points over Trump; Democrat Hillary Clinton lost those voters by 17 points in the 2016 race that Trump won. No Labels says it would draw equally from both major parties.
No Labels has emerged during a period of partisan polarization, with a rising bloc of independent voters dissatisfied with both major parties.
While No Labels has focused its attention on the 2024 presidential election, it will have a guaranteed line on the ballot for every state and federal race in Arizona. That has prompted speculation that the group could provide a vehicle to support Arizona independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who left the Democratic Party last year and faces a tough reelection fight if she decides to run for a second term in a three-way race.
A spokeswoman for Sinema declined to comment.
No Labels becomes Arizona’s fourth recognized party, joining the Democratic, Republican and Libertarian parties. The state stopped recognizing the Green Party after the 2018 election, when it failed to get at least 5% of the vote in the election for governor and didn’t collect enough signatures to maintain its status.