Koch Network Has A New Plan For 2024: Any (Republican) Candidate But Trump

In this February 26, 2007 file photograph, Charles Koch, head of Koch Industries, talks passionately about his new book on Market Based Management. (Bo Rader/Wichita Eagle/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
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Americans for Prosperity — the fundraising network that forms a key part of the conservative billionaire Charles Koch’s political influence operation — is suggesting that it won’t be supporting former President Donald Trump in the 2024 Republican presidential primaries, saying it will throw its weight behind a candidate “who can lead our country forward, and who can win.”

“The best thing for the country would be to have a president in 2025 who represents a new chapter,” AFP CEO Emily Seidel said in a three-page Sunday memo

The memo didn’t mention Trump by name, but it’s notable as an early sign of coordination from within conservative circles to stop the former president from winning the GOP nomination for a third time.

“The American people have shown that they’re ready to move on, and so AFP will help them do that,” Seidel wrote.

So far, Trump is the only Republican candidate who has officially announced a bid for the White House. Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is expected to announce her candidacy in the upcoming weeks. And Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is also reportedly considering his own bid.

“If we want to elect better people, we need better candidates. And if we want better candidates, we’ve got to get involved in elections earlier and in more primaries,” the memo said.

The libertarian-leaning Koch network, key to conservative politics in the 2010s, has had an at best lukewarm relationship with Trump, backing some of his priorities, such as the 2017 tax bill, while giving his nationalist, populist style a wide berth. AFP’s open indication that it will step away from Trump in 2024 could be a further sign of Trump’s weakness heading into the next presidential election, with the influential group positioning itself to urge many of the wealthy donors within the Koch network to stay away from the Trump campaign.

Americans for Prosperity and Americans for Prosperity Action together spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the 2022 midterms, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Seidel’s memo said the groups engaged in 457 races and funded efforts to knock on 7 million doors. 

“The Republican Party is nominating bad candidates who are advocating for things that go against core American principles. And the American people are rejecting them,” the memo read. “Lots of people are frustrated. But very few people are in a position to do something about it. AFP is. Now is the time to rise to the occasion.”

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