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Arizona Democrats to sue No Labels to block third-party challenge

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 3/30/2023 Michael Scherer
Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes is facing a lawsuit from the state Democratic Party for accepting a signature petition from No Labels for recognition as a political party under state law. © Ross D. Franklin/AP Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes is facing a lawsuit from the state Democratic Party for accepting a signature petition from No Labels for recognition as a political party under state law.

The Arizona Democratic Party will file a lawsuit Thursday against the state’s top election administrator and No Labels, seeking to reverse the moderate group’s recognition as a political party for the 2024 elections, according to Democratic officials.

The lawsuit, in state court in Phoenix, reflects growing concern in Democratic circles that a No Labels third-party ticket in 2024 will jeopardize the reelection hopes of President Biden and make it harder for Democrats to maintain control of the Senate.

The lawsuit claims that Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, who is a Democrat, made an error in accepting signature petitions for the No Labels Party, because accompanying affidavits from proposed electors were signed before all the petitions were gathered, in violation of state statute. As a result, the Arizona Democratic Party claims the affidavits purporting to verify the petitions should be considered false and the petitions invalid.

The lawsuit also argues that No Labels, which is organized as a social welfare nonprofit that is not required to disclose its donors, has failed to comply with the federal requirements of a political party, including donation limits and donor disclosure.

“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,” said Morgan Dick, spokeswoman for the Arizona Democratic Party. “Arizonans deserve better and voters deserve to know who is behind this shadowy organization and what potentially nefarious agenda they are pushing.”

Ryan Clancy, the chief strategist for No Labels, dismissed the lawsuit as a political move.

“This undemocratic and unscrupulous lawsuit is a disgrace,” he said in a statement. “Next time you hear this crowd talking about protecting democracy, remember what they are really doing is protecting their turf.”

David Rosenbaum, an attorney for No Labels in Phoenix, said in a statement that he was confident the court will uphold the decision by Fontes.

“The professional staff in the secretary of state’s office already thoroughly reviewed No Labels’ filing and certified it,” he said.

The civil suit comes as No Labels is seeking state ballot access across the country to prepare for a potential “black swan” moment, when enough Americans are dissatisfied with the major-party nominees to open a lane for a third-party candidate to win the White House. A video from the group published Tuesday by the New Republic described the presidential campaign effort as “an insurance policy for America’s future.” The group has already qualified for the ballots in Oregon, Arizona, Alaska and Colorado.

The video asserts that a third-party bid in 2024 could win at least 23 states and 279 electoral votes, enough to take the White House. Even if the ballot lines are not used for third-party candidates, the No Labels video argues that the third-party effort could win “a commitment for our agenda for one of our major-party candidates, paving the way for a true common-sense bipartisan approach.”

Founded in 2010 as a political organization focused on finding bipartisan and centrist solutions to the nation’s problems, the group has worked on both policy and elections, raising money for both Republican and Democratic candidates. The group helped to found the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus in the U.S. House.


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