PHOENIX (AP) - An Arizona judge has rejected the state Democratic Party's lawsuit targeting the new No Labels Party, which many Democrats fear will boost former President Donald Trump's bid to return to the White House.
Secretary of State Adrian Fontes properly recognized No Labels as a political party earlier this year, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper wrote in a decision dated Monday. Cooper rejected Democratic claims that there were deficiencies in the paperwork No Labels filed but said she may allow Democrats to refile the lawsuit with new arguments.
"This is an important win for American democracy and a testament to the power of over 41,000 Arizona voters who signed to give No Labels ballot access in Arizona," No Labels leaders Benjamin Chavis Jr. and Jay Nixon said in a statement.
No Labels says it is seeking ballot access in many states and will run a bipartisan "unity ticket" for president "if the two parties select unreasonably divisive presidential nominees." Group leaders say they'll stand down if there's not a clear path to victory.
Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans worry a No Labels candidate couldn’t win but would tip the scales in favor of Trump or a Trump-like Republican.
No Labels has also gained ballot access in states including Alaska, Colorado and Oregon, but the stakes are especially high in Arizona, a battleground state where Democratic President Joe Biden won in 2020 by a little over 10,000 votes, less than half a percentage point. Biden won two other states by less than one percentage point.
The Arizona Democratic Party has separately filed a complaint with the secretary of state's office looking to force No Labels to disclose its donors or lose its status as a political party.
"We are, as always, evaluating all of our options and will continue to fight to protect Arizonans' right to know who is bankrolling this organization as they inject themselves into our elections," Morgan Dick, executive director of the Arizona Democratic Party, said in a text message.