West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III, the most vulnerable senator facing reelection next year, will speak next week in the early-voting state of New Hampshire at an event sponsored by a group organizing to get a third-party presidential ticket on the ballot in all 50 states.
Manchin, who has not said whether he will seek reelection and also hasn’t ruled out a presidential bid, will be a keynote speaker at a No Labels town hall meant to launch a “Common Sense policy booklet.”
“We’re going there to talk about commonsense solutions and commonsense problems, that’s all,” he said on Wednesday about the event.
The group’s efforts have unnerved some Democrats and Republicans who fear it could hurt President Joe Biden’s reelection bid by attracting votes he would need to beat former President Donald Trump. The Washington Post reported this week that a separate bipartisan group is planning to launch an effort to oppose the No Labels plan.
But others are less concerned. Connecticut Sen. Christopher S. Murphy said he’s “not giving a lot of thought to it.”
“It strikes me as a Republican front group,” he said. “It’s way too early to know what the impact is going to be or whether they’ll actually run a candidate.”
Key Senate seat
Manchin’s Senate term is up next year, and two Republicans have already announced campaigns to challenge him. Gov. Jim Justice and Rep. Alex X. Mooney are locked in a competitive primary in a red state that voted for Trump by nearly 40 points in 2020.
The seat is pivotal to the battle for Senate control, with Manchin, a former governor, seen as the only Democrat with a chance of holding the seat.
Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, the chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said he regularly talks with Manchin and is encouraging him to run for Senate.
In a Friday interview with Fox Business Network, Manchin reiterated that he hadn’t closed the door on a presidential bid.
“I’m just looking at everything possible to help my country move in a moderate, centrist [direction], making … sure that we’re making our decisions not from the extremes,” Manchin said.
No Labels, an organization that says it advocates for bipartisanship and political consensus, has taken steps to try to enter the presidential race next year. Former Sen. Joe Lieberman, a founding chairman of the group, said earlier this year that the aim of the effort was to make a statement about the partisanship of a two-party system and to ensure that Trump doesn’t become president again.
Getting ballot access
Former Michigan Rep. Fred Upton said in a recent CBS interview that No Labels is working to get on the ballot in all 50 states by the end of the first quarter of next year. The group successfully got on Utah’s ballot last week and is in the process of doing so in nearly two dozen other states, he said.
“In essence, if it’s Trump and Biden and a majority of Americans say, ‘No, we don’t want a rematch again,’ that’s what we’re shooting for, to actually have a Republican presidential candidate and a Democrat vice presidential … candidate,” Upton said. “But if it’s not Trump and Biden, or if Biden has a statistical lead, we’ll throw the cards in.”
Republican Jon Huntsman, a former Utah governor who ran for president in 2012, will also speak with Manchin on Monday at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H.
“New Hampshire has long occupied a unique place in American politics, which makes it a special place to discuss the most important issues facing our country,” Huntsman said in a statement announcing the town hall. “There’s never been a more critical time to remind ourselves that we are all Americans.”