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No Labels movement seeks support in Arizona

Bob Rosenberg helps organize the No Labels movement here in Arizona. (Photo by Evan Wyloge/Arizona Capitol Times)

Bob Rosenberg helps organize the No Labels movement here in Arizona. (Photo by Evan Wyloge/Arizona Capitol Times)

A nationwide movement seeking to foster more cooperation and civility across party lines is looking to make inroads in Arizona.

The No Labels movement will have its first meeting in Arizona at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Alexi’s Grill, 3550 N. Central Ave. in Phoenix.

No Labels kicked off its nationwide campaign on Dec. 13 in New York.

Bob Rosenberg, a lobbyist and consultant, said the movement isn’t meant to deter people from engaging in partisan politics. Its purpose, he said, is to create a more civil discourse and encourage people to reach across the aisle in solving problems.

“There’s nothing in the No Labels movement that says that we can’t have labels, that we can’t be loyal to our party,” Rosenberg said. “And we are loyal to our parties, and that’s a good thing. But more important than being loyal to the party is being loyal to the country. It’s a higher calling. And if somebody from one party has a good idea, it seems to me inappropriate for others to reject the idea simply because of the NIH factor – Not Invented Here.”

The message No Labels is promoting got an unexpected boost in the wake of a Jan. 8 shooting attack in Tucson that killed six, critically wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and injured 12 others. The shooting prompted calls across the country for more civility in America’s political discourse.

Rosenberg said No Labels has seen increased interest since the shooting, but stressed that the movement predates the tragedy.

“It is a broad group. It’s been under development longer than this guy in Tucson was planning his assassination attack,”

The national movement attracted several high-profile politicians, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh and former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist. In Arizona, Andrei Cherny, a former prosecutor and the Democratic nominee for state treasurer in 2010, is promoting the movement.

Cherny’s involvement raised eyebrows after he announced a run for chairman of the Arizona Democratic Party, just three weeks after writing an opinion piece lauding No Labels. But Rosenberg said Cherny’s run for a highly partisan job doesn’t undermine the message.

“It’s a sophisticated position. It may be a little more complex than taking a simplistic us-them position. But that’s not a bad thing,” said Rosenberg, who wouldn’t reveal his own party affiliation.

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