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There's a new political party in North Carolina: No Labels

 Former Republican North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory is seen in an undated photo.
Hal Goodtree
Former Republican North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory is seen in an undated photo.

The North Carolina Board of Elections voted 4-1 Sunday to recognize the centrist group No Labels as a political party in the state. That means the group can be on the 2024 ballot, should it choose to run a third-party presidential candidate, and voters will now have six choices with which to affiliate themselves when it comes to party.

No Labels has said it may field a presidential candidate next year if it’s likely the election will be between President Joe Biden and Republican Donald Trump.

In North Carolina, the elections board had already said No Labels had collected the nearly 14,000 signatures required to be recognized as a party. But board members questioned whether the people who signed the petition understood what they were signing.

The board had deferred a previous vote on certifying the group.

The North Carolina Board of Elections appears skeptical that the centrist group No Labels should be recognized as a political party, according to newly posted documents ahead of a critical vote Sunday.

Democrats nationwide are worried that No Labels would pull more centrist-leaning votes from Biden and tip the election to Trump.

Former North Carolina state Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr — a former Republican who opposes Trump — argued successfully on behalf of No Labels as the group’s attorney.

“They’re not trying to be a spoiler for anybody,” he said. “But they would only run a third-party ticket if they thought there was a viable path to that third-party ticket winning.”

Former North Carolina Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who is a No Labels co-chair, has dismissed the idea that the group could be a spoiler. He has said that No Labels has a realistic chance of winning, should it choose to run a presidential candidate.

West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and Jon Huntsman, former Republican governor of Utah, have been discussed as a possible No Labels ticket.

The North Carolina board has a 3-2 Democratic majority, but two of three Democrats voted to recognize No Labels. Siobhan O’Duffy Millen voted no.

No Labels has said it will decide on whether to field a candidate in April, at its convention in Dallas.

North Carolina voters can now choose between registering as a Democrat, Republican, Green, Libertarian, No Labels or unaffiliated.

Adm. Dennis Blair, the No Labels Party of North Carolina Chair, said in a statement Sunday: "It's a great day for democracy in the Tar Heel State. The North Carolina Board of Elections chose to stand with voters to give the No Labels Party of North Carolina access to the ballot. I commend them for setting aside partisan politics to hear the voices of thousands of North Carolinians who support No Labels and who are part of America’s growing commonsense majority. Today, North Carolina and democracy won." 

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Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.