New Hampshire residents, especially around the Manchester area, have likely seen the black and green “Elect a Problem Solver President” signs stuck in the ground along public roads and in residents’ front yards. They belong to No Labels, a group whose mission is to make bipartisanship cool again.
No Labels is hosting the first ever Problem Solver Convention on Monday, Oct. 12, at the Manchester Radisson.
No Labels State Coordinator Will Layden expects more than 1,000 attendees, and several candidates have already agreed to attend.
So far, Republicans Donald Trump, Chris Christie, Lindsey Graham, John Kasich and George Pataki are on the ticket, as well as Democrats Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb, according to a press release.
No Labels was created in 2010, in the wake of one of the nation’s most politically tumultuous years. Since then it has created federal legislation for things like holding congressional salaries in escrow during government shutdowns. It was also behind the mixed-party seating at the 2011 State of the Union address. Now, it hopes to commit presidential candidates to a set of major policy goals through cross-party cooperation.
No Labels office headquarters are located behind a stately turn-of-the-century mansion on north Elm Street in Manchester, where staffers have organized a massive outreach campaign. They’ve mailed out postcards to 50,000 residents — mostly independents and swing voters — made 200,000 phone calls to residents and knocked on thousands of neighborhood doors.
So far, No Labels has put out about 500 signs around the Manchester area.
“We’ve been working 12-hour days for the past couple weeks just getting the message out,” Layden said.
No Labels spokesperson Ryan Clancy says the group has outlined its four main goals of creating 25 million jobs over the next decade, securing Medicare and Social Security for the next 75 years, balancing the federal budget by 2030 and making the country energy secure by 2024. If a candidate publicly commits to begin working on one of those four issues with a bipartisan group in Congress within the first 30 days in office, he will receive the “Problem Solvers Seal of Approval.”
No Labels represents a cross-section of political ideologies. Layden is a conservative.
“We have four Democrats and three Republicans in the office,” Layden said.
He said the group itself represents the kind of cooperation it wants to see on Capitol Hill.
The New Hampshire focus
Layden is one of seven full-time paid staffers there, along with two D.C. staffers who rotate back and forth. At its peak over the summer, they had imported up to 18 unpaid interns from all over the country and recruited a pool of more than 100 volunteers from New Hampshire who are still actively involved.
“No Labels has some folks in Iowa. Nationwide, we have a very big network of citizen supporters and other kinds of supporters but, by far, the biggest investment is in New Hampshire and it’s for a reason,” Clancy said. “When you look at the number of independent and undeclared voters in that state, those are the … kinds of voters that we think are really receptive to this kind of message.”
A recent poll commissioned by No Labels found a lot of support for candidates who will break congressional gridlock.
“There is a real desire for a candidate that has a capacity to solve problems,” Clancy said.
The most important figure is one that gives teeth to the organization’s main strategy; its research says 79 percent of voters are more likely to vote for a candidate who receives the Problem Solvers Seal of Approval.
Tickets to the Problem Solver Convention are $12 after Oct. 8. Call 518-7332 or email email@example.com to request tickets.