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New York City Hosts `No Labels' Political Group Countering `Partisanship'

More than 1,000 Democrats, Republicans and independents gathered today in New York City to create “No Labels,” an organization that says it’s devoted to reducing “excessive polarization and hyper-partisanship” in U.S. politics.

The group will pressure “elected officials to put the labels aside at critical times and work together,” and serve “as a counterweight to ideological extremes,” it said in a news release.

The organization’s leadership includes New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. In a speech last week to business leaders in Brooklyn, the mayor said U.S. economic growth would fall behind other nations because of “partisan gridlock, political pandering and legislative influence-peddling.”

Bloomberg, 68, a one-time Democrat, switched to the Republican Party before running for mayor in 2001 and 2005, and gave up all party affiliations in 2007, when he explored an independent presidential bid. He won re-election to a third mayoral term in 2009 on the Republican and Independence Party ballots. In a Dec. 12 appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” he said he would serve his full term and doesn’t have presidential aspirations.

“I’m not looking at the possibility of running,” he said on NBC. “No way. No how.”

Castle and Crist

The gathering was set to include Republican U.S. Representative Michael Castle of Delaware, who lost a U.S. Senate primary to Tea Party advocate Christine O’Donnell, and Florida’s Charlie Crist, a former Republican who ran as an independent for U.S. Senate and lost to Tea Party-supported Republican Marco Rubio.

Democrats were scheduled to include U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who won election last month, and Senator-elect Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who defeated John Raese, a media entrepreneur who campaigned with Tea Party support. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, a Democrat who won re- election in 2006 as an independent, was also on the roster of speakers.

The group endorsed the concept of “non-partisan redistricting,” removing legislative control over how state and U.S. Congressional districts are drawn in an effort to boost competition among candidates.

Incumbent politicians “make sure that they don’t have competitive races, and as long as they are the ones that set the standards, I don’t think you can expect much change,” Bloomberg said during a panel discussion.

The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

To contact the reporters on this story: Henry Goldman in New York City Hall at Hgoldman@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net.

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