Chris Christie won’t mount third-party run in 2024 US presidential election

Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor and two-time losing candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, said he would not mount a third-party White House run – closing another door on No Labels, the non-partisan group seeking to mount a campaign.

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“I appreciate the encouragement I’ve gotten to pursue a third-party candidacy,” Christie said.

“I believe we need a country that once again feels like everyone has a stake in what we’re doing and leadership that strives to bring people together, instead of using anger to divide us.

“While I believe this is a conversation that needs to be had with the American people, I also believe that if there is not a pathway to win and if my candidacy in any way, shape or form would help Donald Trump become president again, then it is not the way forward.”

Founded in 2010, No Labels describes itself as “a national movement of commonsense Americans pushing our leaders together to solve our country’s biggest problems”.

Seeking ballot access, it has been rebuffed by possible candidates but nonetheless announced a “country over party committee” to select a “unity presidential ticket”. Organisers have also said they will not field a candidate if none suitable can be found.

The group suffered a further blow on Wednesday with the death of its chair, Joe Lieberman, the former Democratic and independent senator from Connecticut who was Gore’s running mate in 2000.

The Washington Post reported that Christie spent “the last several weeks” considering a No Labels bid, commissioning polling and working out notional budgets. Unnamed sources told the Post such work resulted in the conclusion that a successful third-party candidate would need to win 20 to 25 states – an unrealistic prospect.

Third-party candidates often operate as spoilers. Famously, in 2000, the Green candidate, Ralph Nader, cost Al Gore dearly in his razor-thin defeat by George W Bush. In 2016, another Green, Jill Stein, took votes from Hillary Clinton in her defeat by Trump.

This year, Robert F Kennedy Jr, an independent, threatens to take votes from both Trump and Joe Biden, with observers split as to who stands to lose most.

A former US attorney for New Jersey, Christie was governor from 2010 to 2018. Initially popular, he left office with historically low approval ratings after scandals including Bridgegate, in which lanes on the George Washington Bridge, which connects New Jersey with upper Manhattan, were closed as political payback against a Democratic mayor.

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Christie ran for the Republican nomination in 2016 but dropped out and gave Trump his first major endorsement. The former governor stayed close to Trump throughout his presidency, despite being ejected from transition planning in what he called a “hit job” by Jared Kushner – Trump’s son-in-law, whose father Christie helped put in jail – and despite contracting Covid-19 from Trump and nearly dying.

Having finally split from Trump over the attack on Congress of 6 January 2021, Christie mounted a 2024 campaign meant to stop Trump being nominated again.

Failing in that aim, Christie dropped out before the first vote. Until Wednesday, he had consistently refused to rule out a third-party bid.

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