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  • Writer's pictureDavid M. Rubin

WHAT HAPPENED TO JOE CUNNINGHAM?

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

First, the one-time golden boy of Low Country Democratic politics lost his seat in Congress to Nancy Mace in the 2020 Covid election. Then he ran a disastrous campaign for Governor in 2022 on a platform of absurd issues---legalizing marijuana and sports betting among them---that had little appeal to Democratic voters.

Now he seems to want to help elect Donald Trump to a second term.

Cunningham made this clear in a recent column for the Post and Courier. He has become the national director for an outfit called No Labels. This group is attempting to qualify for the ballot in 2024 in all 50 states as a new party. If Americans are given a choice of Biden or Trump, No Labels threatens to offer a "unity" team as a third-party alternative. This team would be nominated at a convention in Dallas in April 2024.


That Cunningham sees no clear difference between Trump and Biden as a second term President is itself astounding. Biden believes in the rule of law; Trump doesn't. Biden believes in the peaceful transition of power; Trump, having led one insurrection, clearly doesn't. Biden sees domestic terrorism as a major threat; Trump is a white supremacist. Biden respects women; Trump sees them as sexual objects.

Cunningham seems oblivious to this. Instead, he blames the two parties for failing to solve such problems as immigration reform or the national debt. He thinks a "unity" government could bring America together. This ignores, of course, that the issues really dividing America is cultural: abortion, religion, guns, gender identity, and the role of religion in public life. No "unity" government is going to solve these issues. Time will, perhaps.

But it gets worse. Cunningham presumably knows who is behind this No Labels outfit he now fronts. Nancy Jacobson founded No Labels in 2010 and is its CEO. She is a long-time Clinton family operative and fundraiser who has been out of power since the ascent of Barack Obama.

She refuses to announce who is funding No Labels, claiming death threats from opponents. But one name has surfaced: Harlan Crow, who has also made lavish gifts to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Crow has brought other Republican donors to the No Labels table. No Labels has also been touted by the likes of slippery former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, and the equally slippery West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin.

Cunningham claims that No Labels would siphon votes equally from Biden and Trump. That is nonsense and dangerous thinking. He cites No Labels polling that shows 59% of all those questioned are "open" to considering a "moderate" for the Presidency. But of that "open" group, 59% of Democrats polled take that position; only 53% of Republicans take it; and a whopping 70% of Independents take it. Clearly, this idea of a unity candidate is more attractive to Democrats and Independents, precisely the voters Biden needs to keep close.


If a No Labels ticket managed to win just enough electoral votes in 2024 to deny a majority to Biden or Trump, the election would be tossed into the House. Each state delegation would get one of 50 votes. Twenty-six state delegations are currently controlled by Republicans, but it would be the new House (elected in November 2024) that would make the decision. If Republicans retained control of 26 delegations, Trump would be elected.

Presumably, that is OK with Cunningham and the shadowy, disaffected group with whom he is now affiliating. But to any patriotic American, the thought of a second Trump presidency should be bone-chilling.


Is Cunningham so desperate to remain "relevant" politically that he would stoop to No Labels? Guess so.

David M. Rubin

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