Sunday, October 1, 2023

Arizona Dems Lose Bid to Block No Labels as Manchin Teases Party Exit

'I want to be able to speak honestly about basically the extremes of the Democrat and Republican Party that’s harming our nation...'

(Headline USAAn Arizona judge has rejected the state Democratic Party’s lawsuit targeting the new No Labels Party, which many Democrats fear will boost former President Donald Trump’s bid to return to the White House.

The news coincided with an interview in which Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who is seen as a possible frontrunner for the No Labels presidential nomination, dropped his biggest tease yet of a possible exit from the Democrat party where he has long been ostracized and taken for granted.

“I’ve been thinking about that for quite some time,” Manchin told a West Virginia radio host, according to the Daily Caller.

“I haven’t made any decisions whatsoever on any of my political direction. I want to make sure that my voice is truly an independent voice,” he added. “When I do speak, I want to be able to speak honestly about basically the extremes of the Democrat and Republican Party that’s harming our nation.”

The comment, although nuanced and noncommittal, marked a dramatic change from earlier speculation that he shot down unequivocally.

Meanwhile, the party likely to be his landing spot overcame one of its first major lawfare hurdles as Arizona Democrats viciously tried, yet again, to put their thumb on the scales of democracy.

Secretary of State Adrian Fontes properly recognized No Labels as a political party earlier this year, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper wrote in a decision dated Monday.

Cooper rejected Democratic claims that there were deficiencies in the paperwork No Labels filed but said she may allow Democrats to refile the lawsuit with new arguments.

“This is an important win for American democracy and a testament to the power of over 41,000 Arizona voters who signed to give No Labels ballot access in Arizona,” No Labels leaders Benjamin Chavis Jr. and Jay Nixon said in a statement.

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.” Group leaders say they’ll stand down if there’s not a clear path to victory.

Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans worry a No Labels candidate couldn’t win but would tip the scales in favor of Trump or a Trump-like Republican given President Joe Biden’s considerable lack of popularity with independents and even some in his own party.

By contrast, Trump has only gained in his GOP standing and support as corrupt leftist prosecutors wage all-out legal warfare on him with a series of indictments designed to disrupt his campaign.

No Labels has also gained ballot access in states including Alaska, Colorado and Oregon, but the stakes are especially high in Arizona, a battleground state where Democratic Biden allegedly won in 2020 by a little over 10,000 votes, less than half a percentage point.

The outcome of that election remains a highly debated point of contention given the massive irregularities and perceived voter fraud orchestrated by then-Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who is now the governor. An audit commissioned by the Arizona Senate showed a series of issues including discrepancies in mail-in ballots that amounted to thousands of unaccounted-for votes.

Biden also allegedly won two other states by less than one percentage point under equally dubious circumstances.

The Arizona Democratic Party has separately filed a complaint with the secretary of state’s office looking to force No Labels to disclose its donors or lose its status as a political party.

“We are, as always, evaluating all of our options and will continue to fight to protect Arizonans’ right to know who is bankrolling this organization as they inject themselves into our elections,” Morgan Dick, executive director of the Arizona Democratic Party, said in a text message.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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