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No Labels will not field third-party ticket

By Aaron Pellish, CNN

(CNN) — The centrist group No Labels is abandoning plans to form a third-party presidential unity ticket for this year’s election.

“Americans remain more open to an independent presidential run and hungrier for unifying national leadership than ever before,” No Labels spokesperson Maryanne Martini said in a statement Thursday.

“But No Labels has always said we would only offer our ballot line to a ticket if we could identify candidates with a credible path to winning the White House. No such candidates emerged, so the responsible course of action is for us to stand down,” she added.

The Wall Street Journal was first to report on the No Labels decision not to field a presidential ticket.

In its quest for a unity ticket, the group had been rebuffed by several high-profile figures, including former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. Other top prospects such as West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan ended up distancing themselves from the group.

No Labels suffered another setback when former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, the group’s founding chairman and one of its most prominent advocates, died last month.

Backed by centrist organizers with ties to the Congressional Problem Solvers Caucus, No Labels announced last year its goal of fielding a presidential ticket that could provide moderate voters with an alternative to President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. The group had previously set a March deadline to decide on whether to field such a ticket.

The group had gained ballot access in 21 states prior to Thursday’s announcement. Martini said in the statement that No Labels will continue advocating bipartisan solutions ahead of November’s election and beyond.

“We will remain engaged over the next year during what is likely to be the most divisive presidential election of our lifetimes. We will promote dialogue around major policy challenges and call out both sides when they speak and act in bad faith,” she said. “Post-election, No Labels will be prepared to champion and defend the values and interests of America’s commonsense majority.”

Some Democratic-aligned groups reacted to the No Labels announcement by calling attention to Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s independent campaign.

“If the reports are true, millions of Americans are relieved that No Labels finally decided to do the right thing to keep Donald Trump out of the White House. Now, it’s time for Robert Kennedy Junior to see the writing on the wall that no third-party has a path forward to winning the presidency,” Rahna Epting, the executive director of MoveOn, said in a statement.

Third Way, a center-left group that had been organizing support against a No Labels ticket, said it was “deeply relieved that everyone rejected their offer, forcing them to stand down.”

“While the threat of third-party spoilers remains, this uniquely damaging attack on President Biden and Democrats from the center has at last ended,” Third Way spokesperson Matt Bennett said in a statement.

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Eva McKend contributed to this report.

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