Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has announced he will step down as Honorary Co-Chairman of No Labels. It is reported that Manchin stepped down because No Labels actively campaigned for Rep. Cory Gardner who ran and won against Sen. Tom Udall. However, part of No Labels’s “12 Steps to Make Government Work” is to end negative campaigns against incumbents and to not have incumbents campaign against a colleague. However, No Labels worked with the Gardner campaign and campaigned against Sen. Tom Udall. Gardner did receive the Problem Solvers Seal from No Labels. No Labels sent staffers to help with Gardner’s campaign and some saw their support as a tipping point in a close race. Reports have indicated that Manchin was unaware of the group’s involvement until it was announced in the media.
The involvement in Colorado angered many Democrats, some involved in the group, some not. A common misconception about No Labels is that they support moderate candidates and elected officials. However, No Labels works with elected officials based off their ability to work across the aisle and if they fit certain criteria. While moderates are often seen as more likely to compromise, the ideology is not looked at by No Labels. Despite that, Democrats were upset that No Labels supported Gardner, who they viewed as a Tea Party Republican, over Sen. Udall, who they felt was moderate.
Also interesting was the way Gardner portrayed his support. When No Labels came out in support of his candidacy, Gardner’s campaign sent out a press release with the headline, “Bipartisan ‘No Labels’ group endorses Cory Gardner.” However, the No Labels website says that the Seal of Approval is not an endorsement “and cannot be advertised as such.”
Read Manchin’s statement:
“No Labels began as an organization that attempted to foster bipartisan conversation amongst Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. I believe in this mission, and believe that No Labels has done a lot to open a dialogue, not only between Democrats and Republicans, but also between Members of the House and Senate – something that was lacking in Washington. Given my position as a sitting United States Senator, who cannot be involved in the day-to-day decision making of the organization, I believe it is appropriate for me at this time to step down as honorary Co-Chair. I still support the original goals of No Labels and will continue to work with them to foster bipartisan communication and bring some common sense back to Washington.”
Read the statement from No Labels Executive Director Margaret Kimbrell:
We want to thank Senator Joe Manchin for serving in a leadership position over the last couple of years, and we look forward to his continued work with No Labels, especially at this time of renewed interest in bipartisanship by the president and the new leadership of Congress.
We are proud of our record – No Labels Problem Solvers included 27 Democrats and 34 Republicans who won election on Tuesday. We uniquely support candidates —regardless of political party — who agree to be problem solvers and work to create a National Strategic Agenda.
We were proud to support Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner who has been a leader at No Labels working with colleagues across the aisle. We repeatedly invited his opponent in the Colorado Senate race — incumbent Senator Mark Udall — to join the group, to attend meetings, and offered him the Problem Solver Seal if he would agree to some simple bipartisan goals. Senator Udall chose not to participate in any way on any level. And this situation put Senator Manchin, as an incumbent Democratic senator, in a politically awkward position with the Senate leadership.
In order to eliminate this sort of conflict in the future, we expect any future honorary co-chairs (like Governor Jon Huntsman) will be former rather than sitting elected officials who are independent of leadership decisions and politics.
Meanwhile, our work is already focusing on the 2016 presidential election. We are calling on presidential candidates to embrace the process to create a National Strategic Agenda — the roadmap that will guide a new president in the effort to reunite our country. The National Strategic Agenda will be based on these four widely agreed-upon goals and will be unveiled in New Hampshire and Iowa on October 5, 2015, just as the presidential campaign season is ramping up.
- Create 25 million new jobs over the next 10 years
- Secure Medicare and Social Security for another 75 years
- Balance the federal budget by 2030
- Make America energy secure by 2024
Late Friday night, the statement was deleted from No Labels’s website. The link redirected to the homepage and the statement could not be found on the blogs page. TKNN has reached out to a No Labels spokeswoman for clarification and will update when/if we hear back.
UPDATE: The statement has been reposted to No Labels under the Press Releases section, instead of the Blog section like before.