The Never Trump (or Biden!) Caucus Sees Its Opening

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) with with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) outside the Senate Chamber at the U.S. Capitol.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) with with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) outside the Senate Chamber at the U.S. Capitol. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Tara Palmeri
February 13, 2023

We’ve reached that time in the cycle—particularly with a potential TrumpBiden rematch looming, DeSantis appearing flat-footed amid “Groomer”-gate, and a genuine lack of excitement all around—when third-party machinations start to feel real. And No Labels, the third party group that supports the Problem Solvers Caucus and other moderate renegades, has already raised more than $70 million from billionaire donors like Steve Schwarzman, John Catsimatidis and Harlan Crow to get its line on the ballot in all 50 states, billing itself as an “insurance policy” against Trump vs. Biden. 

As I’ve been reporting for months, the group has been meticulously poll-testing permutations of a Joe ManchinLarry HoganLisa Murkowski ticket. They even met with Mike Pompeo in Dallas to talk about his aspirations. Their donor retreat/strategy session in Miami this month featured Manchin, Hogan, Susan Collins, Kyrsten Sinema and Tony Gonzalez. And perhaps they really have a lane in a political moment when just 31 percent of Democrats want Biden to seek another term and only 44 percent of Republicans want Trump to run again. 

To separate the wheat from the chaff, I spoke to one of the few people with real experience running third party campaigns: Reed Galen, co-founder of The Lincoln Project, the band of former Republican strategists with a mission to take out Trump. Galen, who was John McCain’s deputy campaign manager in a prior life, has been heavily involved in the independent reform political space since Trump barreled onto the national stage in 2015. Is this really the moment for No Labels to break through, or are they just opportunistically raising cash? Will a botched attempt alienate them further and piss off donors? We cover it all and much, much more.