Republicans Are Starting to Panic About the Koch Brothers-Trump Rift

Politics Features Trump v. Koch
Republicans Are Starting to Panic About the Koch Brothers-Trump Rift

President Trump is in the midst of a Twitter diss campaign against the Koch Brothers. Here are his greatest hits from the last three days:

Trump is right about one thing—he absolutely doesn’t need anything from the Koch Brothers. When you can essentially make your own publicity at the drop of a hat because you drive television ratings like no other human on the planet, it’s not like you need a million dollars to buy a commercial in Iowa.

However, for Republican politicians who aren’t Donald Trump, that money is far less “overrated.” And now that the Kochs (really, just Charles Koch) and Trump are fighting over tariffs, and the Kochs are allegedly “raising the bar” for endorsements, it presents a few ugly pitfalls for those lesser Republicans. Namely:

1. If the Kochs pull their funding out of spite, it’s going to make it really hard for them to win midterm elections against an energized Democratic base.

2. For many, having to choose between Trump and the Brothers Koch is an impossible choice—you either lose your money, or your groundswell of populist support. Both of which are critical.

NBC News reports that the situation has reached a critical point in Washington, where Republicans are running scared.

The decision by the conservative Koch network to be more selective in supporting candidates that back their free trade, small government policies, has spurred fear among GOP lawmakers that a major funding spigot will dry up, and they worry that the growing spat is dividing the party before the crucial midterm elections.

That has rattled Republicans who have relied on Koch money to supplement their own campaign message and to be a reliable attack dog against Democratic opponents.

But the Koch organization has grown frustrated with the GOP, which is transforming into a more protectionist, nationalist party under Trump’s leadership — a shift that Koch officials see as counter to their agenda.

The first big example is happening North Dakota, where the Kochs have refused to support Republican challenger Kevin Cramer in a tight race against Heidi Heitkamp, citing his “inconsistency” on their pet issues. They even sent mailer ads thanking Heitkamp for cutting back bank regulations.

As of now, it seems like the Kochs will commit to just six Senate races and 10 House races, and some of those aren’t even “crucial” states. It’s unclear what effect their reduced involvement will have, since many believe that the current media climate makes dark money less relevant than ever before, and it’s likely that the results of the midterm will function as a referendum on the efficacy of Koch-like tactics, and have an enormous effect on their influence in the future.

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