No Labels engages Chris Christie allies about a potential third-party run

DES MOINES, Iowa — No Labels, the political organization seeking to put together a bipartisan, third-party presidential ticket in 2024, has actively engaged with allies of Chris Christie about his potential interest in joining the group’s ticket.

On Wednesday, just days before the Iowa caucuses, the former New Jersey governor made the stunning announcement that he would exit the race for the Republican presidential nomination despite having defiantly resisted suggestions to drop out.

Now, NBC News has learned that No Labels, the decade-old organization that has sought to build a bipartisan coalition of politicos in Washington, has made overtures to Christie through donors and allies, according to three sources familiar with the conversations. It is not clear if Christie has authorized any conversations to take place on his behalf.  

These conversations all happened before Christie dropped out Wednesday, and some of them occurred in recent weeks, according to one of the sources familiar. 

Several Christie allies and donors who spoke to NBC News said they are skeptical that he would be interested in any offer to run as a third-party candidate.

“Neither the governor nor anyone on the campaign has had conversations with No Labels,” Christie campaign manager Maria Comella said after he announced the suspension of his campaign. Asked if Christie would entertain the idea, Comella said she had not talked about it with him but added that Christie was clear in his speech that he was “not going away.”

A spokesperson for No Labels told NBC News that it is not speculating on potential candidates for the ticket and, instead, continues to focus on meeting the signature threshold requirements for ballot access in states across the country for that would-be ticket.

“We’re focused on ballot work, and we won’t be providing commentary on the respective candidates or primary results,” Maryanne Martini, the spokesperson for No Labels, said. 

A source familiar with the engagement noted that Christie has widespread name recognition, a track record and has shown a willingness to take on former President Donald Trump. 

“[No Labels will] have to have somebody who is not afraid to kick a little a–,” the person said. 

Christie, in his remarks at a New Hampshire event on Wednesday, promised “to make sure that in no way do I enable Donald Trump to ever be president of the United States again. And that’s more important to me than personal ambition.”

“It is not easy to stand up and fight for what we believe in when the wind is blowing in our face. It is not easy to stand up and fight the loudest voice in the room,” Christie said during his remarks, continuing, “But that’s what we need to do in the next 10 months if we want to keep in concert with the spirit of this country.”

Last July, shortly after Christie formally launched his GOP presidential campaign, he dismissed the idea of eventually joining a hypothetical No Labels ticket, calling it a “fool’s errand.”

“They want to hurt Donald Trump if he’s the nominee,” Christie remarked. “But, you know, when you get a third-party campaign — and we saw this with Ross Perot, we saw this later with Ralph Nader — you never quite know who you’re going to hurt in that process.”

Individuals involved in these conversations have wrestled with whether “sore loser laws” in a myriad of states would prevent Christie from running as a viable candidate on the No Labels ticket. Those laws prevent an individual who loses a party primary from running in the same race as an independent or under the mantle of another party, but the impact of those state laws on one-time presidential candidates is less clear.

No Labels has also recently suggested that it would be keen on a Republican leading the bipartisan ticket with either an independent or Democrat serving as the vice presidential running mate. 

A new super PAC, New Leaders 2024 PAC, also launched this week to financially boost the possible No Labels ticket.