Koch network to spend $400 million during 2018 midterm election cycle
By Jonathan Easley January 27, 2018
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INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – The network of groups affiliated with billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch will spend more than $400 million on conservative causes and candidates in the 2018 midterm election cycle.
Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips said Saturday that the investment would be the network’s largest election-cycle investment ever – 60 percent greater than the 2016 presidential cycle – as Republicans seek to protect majorities in the House and Senate against stiff political winds.
The network notably stayed out of the 2016 presidential contest between President Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, although it spent heavily on Republican candidates and conservative causes.
Some of the $400 million for 2018 will be spent on electing GOP candidates. The network also plans to spend heavily promoting tax reform and other achievements of the GOP-controlled government, including Veterans Affairs reforms and Trump’s conservative judicial picks.
“We’re all in,” Phillips said, adding that the political landscape indicates that 2018 is “going to be a challenging year” for Republicans.
The party in power historically suffers losses in a midterm election.
Generic ballot polling for the House shows Democrats with a double-digit lead and Trump’s historically low approval rating for a first-term president could be a drag on the party.
The GOP’s effort to hold on to the House has been complicated by a raft of retirements and there are worries that an energized liberal base could send the GOP to substantial losses.
Still, fundraising has been a bright spot for the GOP, with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and outside groups aimed at electing Republicans raising enormous sums in 2017 to protect their majorities.
Hundreds of top conservative donors affiliated with Koch network have gathered this weekend at the exclusive Indian Wells resort in the California desert to strategize ahead of the 2018 midterms elections.
“We’re looking for candidates, policy-makers who can credibly commit to helping people improve their lives,” said Brian Hooks, the co-chairman of the Winter Seminar.
The Koch network spent $20 million in support of the GOP’s tax reform bill and plans to spend another $20 million to advertise its benefits, Hooks said.
“We’re hopeful,” Phillips said. “When you look at recent coverage of the public’s view of tax reform, it’s going up as they see pay raises.”
The Koch network has attracted its biggest crowd of members ever to the Winter Seminar, with 550 conservative activists from around the country, including 160 first-timers, who have descended on the California desert to strategize ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.
“Charles Koch has challenged us and the other leaders in the network to step things up by an order of magnitude, that means 10 fold,” said Hooks, the co-chair of the Winter Seminar. “That’s what we’re going to do.”