Sat. Jul 20th, 2024

Democrats prepare to go to war against third party candidates

By 37ci3 Mar14,2024



As the party and its allies prepare for a potential all-out war against candidates they see as spoilers, the Democratic National Committee is building its first team to oppose third-party and independent presidential candidates, NBC News was told.

The DNC has hired Lis Smith, a veteran Democratic operative best known for her work leading Pete Buttigieg’s 2020 presidential campaign, to help oversee the aggressive communications component of the anti-third party strategy.

Underscoring how important Democrats view the effort, it is being overseen by two veteran DNC insiders, Mary Beth Cahill and Ramsey Reid, who have already issued rare public statements rebuking Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Matt Corridoni, Smith’s former Buttigieg campaign deputy and most recently D-Mass. Rep. Jake joins the team as Auchincloss’ senior aide and spokesperson.

“We’re facing an unprecedented election, and we know that the GOP is already working to support third-party candidates like Robert F. Kennedy Jr. so they can chase horses for Donald Trump,” Corridoni told NBC News. “There are so many things that we don’t take for granted. We will make sure voters are educated and make sure all candidates play by the rules.”

The move comes as a coalition of outside groups, including Democratic and anti-Trump Republican organizations, raise money and try to block third parties.

“Jil Stein has some staying power,” said Pat Dennis, president of American Bridge, a Democratic opposition research group, referring to the 2016 Green Party candidate seen as a spoiler in places like Michigan. “A lot of people, myself included, regret that we didn’t go after him.”

Democrats have long blamed Green Party candidates like Stein and Ralph Nader for contributing to their losses in 2016 and 2000.

But they say third parties will be especially effective in 2024 because of the nature of Trump’s support base.

“Trump must break the anti-Trump coalition. If we are united, we will win. If we don’t, he wins,” Dennis said. “We see [Kennedy and No Labels] essentially as an arm of the Trump campaign, and we intend to treat it as such.

Democrats were quick to point out that the biggest donor to Kennedy’s super PAC, too One of Trump’s biggest donorsheir to the conservative Mellon family.

As they see it, Trump has a ceiling of about 46% support, so to defeat him they need to get the majority of the remaining voters to support Biden. They argue that Trump can win without a majority if third parties break up what they see as an anti-Trump majority.

“The biggest threat to helping Trump return to the White House is third-party candidates. Not Biden’s age. The issue is not whether Trump should be prosecuted. It’s none of those things,” said Joe Trippi, a veteran Democratic strategist who co-founded a new super PAC set to air TV ads in battleground states.

The group “Citizens Will Save Our Republic” is supported by a long and somewhat bipartisan list. bold Washington names, including two former secretaries of defense, five former senators, 14 current and former members of Congress, three former presidential candidates, and several prominent Democratic and Republican anti-Trump operatives.

“It’s not like Trump didn’t lose a vote or two, but the erosion is more with Biden than Trump,” Trippi said. “The Trump people know he needs strong third parties.”

Indeed, the Trump campaign and its allies largely agrees with this analysisat least publicly, and some encouraged Kennedy to enter the race.

According to Trippi, Trump widened his share of the vote from 46.1% to 46.9% from 2016 to 2020, but won in 2016 and lost in 2020 because of third parties. In 2016, third-party candidates combined for about 5% of the popular vote, and in 2020, only 1.5%.

Citizens have already competed to Save our Republic TV commercials The “all third parties and spoilers” warning is gearing up for a bigger advertising campaign in key states and has sparked internal pressure to pressure No Labels to back down if it becomes clear they can’t win.

“The Biden campaign is going to have to spend a lot of money educating people about the dangers of third-party voting,” said former Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. It’s not a vote for Trump.”

The anti-third party coalition, the centrist Democratic Third Way, has largely focused on No Labels, given its superior fundraising and organizing.

Behind the scenes, insiders in both parties pressured potential candidates not to join the No Labels ticket, warning them that they would lose and become pariahs in their parties, contributing to No Labels’ struggle to find a credible top of their ticket.

“The growing list of high-profile prospects who said no is significant progress, but until we know if they get a name for their ticket, we’ll hold off on it. They only need one,” said Kate deGruyter of Third Way.

Third Way and the DNC each hired separate attorneys file legal objections against Kennedy and his super PAC, alleging illegal coordination on ballot access. Super PAC he said The collection of signatures on behalf of Kennedy will stop on Monday.

End Citizens United, a campaign finance reform group, pressed No Labels to disclose its donors and filed its own legal complaints with the IRS and 27 states, alleging that No Labels violated its nonprofit tax status by operating as a political party.

More legal challenges are almost guaranteed, with lawyers actively monitoring third-party ballot access attempts across the country to look for any exploitable slippage.

With discontent to Biden’s left, MoveOn is trying to woo young and progressive voters from voting for a third party, recently reaching six figures. buy advertising “Voting for No Labels or any third-party presidential candidate helps Trump win,” the warning said.

Meanwhile, Rick Wilson, a former Republican strategist who co-founded the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump group, said he and his colleagues worry that third-party candidates will be an attractive option for anti-Trump Republicans and soft Democrats. I don’t want to vote for Trump or Biden.

“These are people who are not going to go from Biden to Trump, but they may go from Biden to a third party,” he said.

Wilson said he liked the idea of ​​a multiparty democracy in theory and wouldn’t worry about No Labels’ presidential ambitions in more traditional elections, but the stakes were too high this year — even if it meant depriving voters of options. and forcing them to choose between two candidates they are unlikely to excite.

“I’m not forcing anybody to do anything, I just live in the reality that if it’s a three-way issue, a three-body issue, Donald Trump is going to win,” Wilson said.





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