The field of presidential candidates has narrowed as Super Tuesday rapidly approaches. As candidates have battled ballot access across different states, one group has filed a formal complaint with the Department of Justice alleging voter suppression.

The nonprofit organization No Labels describes itself as the home for the politically homeless who are tired of partisan extremism and hungry for commonsense solutions.

In 2024, the group has turned toward a new project — a unity presidential ticket. If President Joe Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump win their primaries, the nonprofit has indicated it would move forward with running its own candidate, with candidate selection slated for April.

Joe Cunningham, national director for No Labels, said, “The truth is, we’ve had a lot of interest, and we’re still going through that process. But we have our eye on Super Tuesday. That’s always been the date for us to look at, to determine whether that’s a Trump vs. Biden rematch.”

Controversy has swirled around No Labels as it has attempted to recruit candidates. Some have criticized the group as paving the way forward for Trump to win in a race against Biden. The thinking behind this criticism is that a third-party candidate would be more likely to pull votes from Biden than from Trump, so any attempt to get voters to coalescence around a third party candidate is simply diverting votes to Trump.

Nancy Jacobson, founder and CEO of No Labels, previously told the Deseret News that she’s considered the possibility, but thinks the current situation could uniquely lend itself to a path to victory for a third party ticket. “We have never seen candidates disliked this much, ever,” she said. “If we’re going to ever create power for the center and get these two parties working together, side by side, for results for the American people, this is the moment.”

No Labels is now saying that the criticism has crossed over into something more serious. In a letter sent to the Department of Justice, the group alleges its effort to obtain ballot access “has spurred the creation of a highly coordinated, conspiratorial, partisan, and often unlawful conspiracy — involving individuals both inside and outside government — to deny Americans their constitutional right to choose the leaders who represent them.”

The group is “persevering,” Cunningham said on the phone. “We’re on 14 states (ballots), but I think it’s important to understand that this primary process right now is not giving us the best candidates.” Most Americans don’t want Biden or Trump, he said, and there’s something he thinks more people should pay attention to.

“The candidate who gets the most number of votes (in a state) takes all the electoral votes,” Cunningham said. “And that’s important because in a competitive three-way race, that slice of the pie might be as small as 34%. You’d be in the high 30s or low 40s.” To win the presidential race in this scenario, a candidate would theoretically only need to cross that 34% threshold.

“This is going to be a marquee level ticket that’s put out there,” Cunningham said, adding that if the group sees a path to victory through a particular ballot line, then No Labels would offer it. While names like Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan have been floated as potential No Labels unity ticket contenders, the organization has not named any of the people who expressed interest.

The Draft Romney Manchin Committee — an attempt to recruit Sens. Mitt Romney, R-UT, and Joe Manchin, D-W.V., to run on a joint ticket — isn’t likely to go anywhere. Romney has expressed doubts about the efficacy of a third party ticket, saying it could bring more votes to Trump. At this point, who would run on a No Labels ballot line is unclear.

Still, as No Labels continues its “insurance policy” of seeking to obtain ballot access across all 50 states, group organizers say they’ve faced attempts to thwart them, which was detailed in the letter they sent to the Department of Justice.

The letter points to Semafor’s reporting on a 80-minute call it obtained. The call was reportedly organized by Matt Bennett, co-founder of Third Way. The letter sent to the Department of Justice quoted participants on the call, including one unnamed attendee who allegedly said, “Through every channel we have, to their donors, their friends, the press, everyone — everyone — should send the message: If you have one fingernail clipping of a skeleton in your closet, we will find it.”

“If you think you were vetted when you ran for governor, you’re insane,” the speaker allegedly continued. “That was nothing. We are going to come at you with every gun we can possibly find.”

“These statements demonstrate that the attendees were participating in a conspiracy to use retaliation, fear, intimidation, and even threats of violence to obtain benefits (more specifically, the elimination of political adversaries) for themselves and those they represent,” the letter alleged.

Third Way released a statement in response to the letter, disputing the veracity of the allegations. “The No Labels allegations are baseless and frivolous. This letter is an all-too-predictable attempt to distract from the fact that No Labels has no chance of winning,” the group said. “Instead, they have confirmed our warning that they are actually planning to use this doomed third-party effort to force a contingent election. We will continue to make the case publicly and privately that No Labels risks putting Donald Trump back in power if they go forward.”

The No Labels letter also pointed toward a clip The Lincoln Project posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. Rick Wilson, co-founder of The Lincoln Project, said in the clip, No Labels “need(s) to be burned to the (expletive) ground politically.”

No Labels referred to the language as “inflammatory rhetoric” and said “we know all too well from experiences with other contemporary politicians how fighting words like that can trigger chaos in the electorate.”

Benjamin F. Chavis, No Labels national co-chair and former executive director of the NAACP, said in a release that the evidence provided in the letter “represents a moral, ethical and legal assault on America’s sacred right to vote.”

After No Labels sent the letter to the Department of Justice, The Lincoln Project said on X that the group “want(s) to weaponize the DOJ to get to attack their opponents for protected political speech” and that it is “a desperate attempt to salvage their failing campaign and keep their fleeing supporters who have finally seen through their facade.”

No Labels’ big gamble

No Labels’ letter requested that the Department of Justice investigate the allegations and “take all appropriate measures, including whatever civil or criminal legal steps may be necessary, to ensure No Labels and its staff, supporters, vendors, and potential candidates are free of intimidation, harassment, and extortion throughout the 2024 election season.”

“Election interference with ballot access is something that I take, as a lifelong Democrat, very, very seriously,” Cunningham, a former Democratic lawmaker, said.

“What we’re seeing by certain groups attack on our access to the ballot should be alarming to all and quite frankly shameful.”