Election 2018FeaturedNews

Koch brothers unveil list of backed House candidates (and Coffman isn’t on it)

Author: Associated Press - August 31, 2018 - Updated: August 31, 2018

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This combination of 2013 and 2012 file photos shows brothers David, left, and Charles Koch. (Phelan M. Ebenhack, Bo Rader/The Wichita Eagle via AP)
By Steve Peoples, Associated Press
NEW YORK — The political network created by the billionaire Koch brothers announced plans Thursday to support eight House Republicans in their election bids, pledging financial resources and activists to help re-elect several vulnerable congressmen deemed “principled” conservatives.
Not on the list: U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, whose race in Colorado’s 6th Congressional District is seen as key to Republicans holding onto control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
The first wave of endorsements includes a handful of sometime-critics of President Donald Trump, particularly on immigration and spending. Coffman has previously expressed differences with Trump.
The announcement comes a month after Trump assailed the Koch brothers as “a total joke in real Republican circles.” Days earlier, network patriarch Charles Koch, at the Koch’s donor conference in Colorado Springs, had condemned the increased government spending under the Republican president’s leadership and Trump’s push for import tariffs.
Despite the clash with the White House, the Koch network remains one of the most powerful political organizations in the country. The sprawling organization is on pace to spend as much as $400 million on politics and policy ahead of November’s election. And its coalition of trained activists across 36 states has no rival.
The candidates backed by the network’s political arm, Americans for Prosperity, include eight men from seven states: Reps. Rod Blum and David Young of Iowa, Dave Brat of Virginia, Ted Budd of North Carolina, Steve Chabot of Ohio, Will Hurd of Texas, Erik Paulsen of Minnesota and Peter Roskam of Illinois.
For each of the candidates, Americans for Prosperity “will fully activate its grass-roots infrastructure through phone banks and neighborhood canvassing, as well as deploy targeted digital, mail and radio advertising,” according to a statement.Absent from the list are some of the nation’s most vulnerable House Republicans, including Coffman as well as Reps. Barbara Comstock of Virginia, in addition to any Republicans from top House battleground states such as California, New Jersey or New York.

Yet in 2016, the Koch brothers-funded 501(c)4 Americans for Prosperity knocked on doors advocating for the defeat of Coffman’s opponent — former state Sen. Morgan Carroll. Among those knocking on doors was AFP President Tim Phillips himself. It was the only race in the entire nation where AFP took that action and only the second time they had done so in Colorado, said then-AFP Colorado director Michael Fields, according to the Colorado Independent.

> RELATED: More on Koch Colo. conference: Another blast from Trump on trade criticism

The Kochs, who devote substantial resources to pushing conservative policies at the state and national level, are active in New Jersey but do not have chapters in California or New York.

“While Americans for Prosperity is committed to opposing politicians who actively work to defeat good policies, we are proud to stand with lawmakers who champion legislation that helps improve people’s lives,” said AFP president Tim Phillips.

He added: “The candidates we are supporting this fall have each been strong, principled leaders.”

All but one of the endorsed candidates, Hurd, supported efforts to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law, including the popular provision that required insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions.

All of them voted for the sweeping tax cuts and the GOP plan to ease banking regulations put in place after the 2007 financial collapse.

Most supported the White House-backed $1.3 trillion spending bill Congress adopted earlier in the year over the Koch network’s objections. The opponents included three people on the endorsement list: Freedom Caucus members Blum, Brat and Budd.

Some of the group also oppose Trump’s immigration policies. Hurd, in particular, has emerged as a vocal critic of the administration’s move to separate immigrant families at the border and spend tens of billions of dollars on a huge wall. Paulsen supports a law that would protect many young immigrants in the country illegally from deportation, while Roskam opposed Trump’s border separation policy as well.

The Koch network favors a more forgiving immigration policy in line with much of the business wing of the GOP. Many businesses depend on immigrant labor to take jobs they have a hard time filling otherwise.

“As we work to build progress in Washington, we will continue our pursuit of policy majorities that will move our country in the right direction by supporting leaders like these,” Phillips said.

Marianne Goodland of Colorado Politics contributed.

Associated Press

Associated Press