DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Larry Hogan, the former governor of Maryland and a moderate Republican who has been critical of Donald Trump, stepped down last month from the leadership of the third-party movement No Labels, a move that could signal his preparations to run for president using the group’s ballot line.
Hogan did not address his own future in a letter to No Labels President and CEO Nancy Jacobson announcing his resignation as co-chair, but he offered no criticism of the group, its plans or leadership. He declined to comment and pointed to the letter, which was dated Dec. 15 and obtained by The Associated Press on Thursday.
No Labels is seeking ballot access across the country as it lays the groundwork for a possible presidential ticket. The plans have spooked many Democrats and other Trump critics who fear it would siphon votes that would otherwise go to Democratic President Joe Biden and facilitate Trump’s return to the White House.
“In stepping aside, it is my intent that new leaders, who can devote themselves full-time to the effort, will be able to take the helm to direct the No Labels political operation,” Hogan wrote.
Separately, an elections official in Maryland said Wednesday that No Labels had obtained enough verified signatures to get on the ballot in Hogan’s home state.
No Labels leaders plan to decide this spring whether to nominate a presidential ticket, and if so, to pick nominees. Details about that process have been murky, however, and the group has repeatedly failed to meet its own goals for announcing plans. It cancelled its convention scheduled for April in Dallas in favor of a virtual meeting.
No Labels officials did not immediately comment.
One of the GOP’s most prominent critics of Trump, Hogan declined to run for the GOP nomination.
Hogan’s team provided the letter to The Associated Press on Thursday, just a day after former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie bowed out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Christie was the fiercest Trump critic in the race but could not catch fire in a GOP still devoted to the former president.
Former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, another No Labels co-chair, said Thursday that he’d like Christie to consider running on the No Labels ticket, calling him “the kind of candidate No Labels is looking for.” Christie had been dismissive of the No Labels movement before he ended his own campaign.
“I’d like to reach out to him and see if he, Gov. Christie, is at all interested in being on a bipartisan No Labels Unity ticket this year,” Lieberman said in a SiriusXM interview. “He could be a very strong candidate.”
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin has also considered running with No Labels. A moderate Democrat who is not seeking reelection to the Senate, Manchin is scheduled to appear Friday in New Hampshire, just ahead of the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary later in January.
Steve Peoples And Jonathan J. Cooper, The Associated Press