Koch Network Endorses Nikki Haley in Bid to Push GOP Past Trump
The political network founded by the Koch brothers is endorsing Nikki Haley in the Republican presidential primary race, giving her organizational muscle and financial heft as she battles Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida for second place in Iowa.
The group announced its plans in a memo on Tuesday.
The commitment by the network, Americans for Prosperity Action, bolsters Ms. Haley as the campaign enters the final seven weeks before the first nominating contest. Since the first Republican primary debate, Ms. Haley has steadily climbed in polls, even as Mr. DeSantis has slipped. Former President Donald J. Trump remains the dominant front-runner in the race.
“In sharp contrast to recent elections that were dominated by the negative baggage of Donald Trump and in which good candidates lost races that should have been won, Nikki Haley, at the top of the ticket, would boost candidates up and down the ballot,” reads the memo from Emily Seidel, a senior adviser to Americans for Prosperity Action, who adds that Ms. Haley would win “the key independent and moderate voters that Trump has no chance to win.”
The memo goes on to say that the country “is being ripped apart by extremes on both sides,” adding: “The moment we face requires a tested leader with the governing judgment and policy experience to pull our nation back from the brink. Nikki Haley is that leader.”
The group laid out polling describing the shift in the race toward Ms. Haley in a separate memo.
Ms. Haley, who has described Mr. Trump’s time as past, has gained support from donors and elite opinion-makers, many of whom describe her as the best alternative to Mr. Trump.
But Ms. Haley’s campaign does not have the organizational strength that Mr. DeSantis does, thanks to work the super PAC affiliated with his campaign has been doing for much of the year.
The endorsement from the super PAC established by David and Charles Koch could help change that. It will give her access to a direct-mail operation, field workers to knock on doors and people making phone calls to prospective voters in Iowa and beyond. The group has money to spend on television advertisements, as well.
The network’s backing also helps fuel Ms. Haley’s momentum heading into the final weeks before voting begins.
Americans for Prosperity Action has been among the country’s largest spenders on anti-Trump material this year, buying online ads and sending mailers to voters in several states, including Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. All told, the group has spent more than $9 million in independent expenditures opposing Mr. Trump.
One mailer in Iowa, paid for by the group, shows images of Mr. Trump and President Biden and reads, “You can stop Biden … by letting go of Trump.”
But so far, none of that spending has benefited any of Mr. Trump’s rivals, who have been busy battling one another.
The Koch network is well financed, raising more than $70 million for political races as of this summer.
The group has been committed to opposing Mr. Trump’s return as leader of the Republican Party. In a memo in February, Ms. Seidel, who also serves as the president of Americans for Prosperity, the political network’s parent group, wrote: “We need to turn the page on the past. So the best thing for the country would be to have a president in 2025 who represents a new chapter.”
Mr. DeSantis’s campaign, which has had upheaval in recent days, including the resignation of the chief executive of his super PAC, tried to throw cold water on the endorsement before it was even announced.
“Every dollar spent on Nikki Haley’s candidacy should be reported as an in-kind to the Trump campaign,” Andrew Romeo, a DeSantis campaign spokesman, wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, 30 minutes before Americans for Prosperity Action officials announced the endorsement on a press call.
“No one has a stronger record of beating the establishment than Ron DeSantis, and this time will be no different,” he wrote.