Americans for Prosperity Now Going After Democratic Governors

The group’s Senate spending is grabbing headlines, but AFP has played a major role in recent gubernatorial and state policy fights, too.

National Journal
Scott Bland
See more stories about...
Scott Bland
March 20, 2014, 10:56 a.m.

The biggest spend­er in U.S. Sen­ate cam­paigns so far this year got in­volved in a battle­ground gov­ernor’s race this week.

Amer­ic­ans for Prosper­ity, the con­ser­vat­ive non­profit that has spent about $30 mil­lion on ad­vert­ising in Sen­ate races over the last sev­er­al months, re­leased a TV ad cri­ti­ciz­ing Illinois Demo­crat­ic Gov. Pat Quinn this week. Cap­it­ol Fax re­por­ted that AFP’s Illinois chapter was put­ting about $120,000 to­ward run­ning the ad on cable.

{{third­PartyEmbed type:you­tube id:x6ewK­vO5­FOo}}

It’s a sign that des­pite the Wash­ing­ton mag­ni­fy­ing glass on AFP’s fed­er­ally fo­cused spend­ing so far, state polit­ics will be an­oth­er pri­or­ity for the group in 2014. The ad ap­pears to be AFP’s first TV spot of 2014 af­fect­ing a gov­ernor’s race, and it comes in the state that gives Re­pub­lic­ans their best chance to de­feat a Demo­crat­ic gov­ernor this year. Quinn, who has nev­er been blessed with great ap­prov­al rat­ings, faces Re­pub­lic­an ven­ture cap­it­al­ist Bruce Rau­ner in the gen­er­al elec­tion after the two won their party nom­in­a­tions on Tues­day night.

“We con­sider our iden­tity as a state-based or­gan­iz­a­tion,” said Dav­id From, AFP’s Illinois state dir­ect­or. From said the ad isn’t ex­pli­citly fo­cused on the gubernat­ori­al elec­tion: Quinn has a ma­jor budget speech com­ing up, and part of his plan for right­ing the state’s fin­ances in­cludes sup­port­ing a pro­gress­ive in­come tax in­stead of the state’s cur­rent flat struc­ture. Amer­ic­ans for Prosper­ity has been fight­ing the pro­pos­al for months.

Taxes will be a huge top­ic in the gov­ernor’s cam­paign, where Quinn and Rau­ner have already traded ac­cus­a­tions of “class war­fare” and fix­ing the state budget is one of the main top­ics.

“We want to make sure the pub­lic is aware of where people stand on the is­sues,” From said. “Gov­ernor Quinn is really go­ing to try to make [the elec­tion] a class-war­fare fight, and the pro­gress­ive in­come tax is an ar­row in that quiver.”

Though AFP’s Sen­ate-re­lated spend­ing is grabbing the most at­ten­tion right now, it has long been in­volved in state polit­ics and spent big money boost­ing a few Re­pub­lic­an gov­ernors in 2012. The group spent around $10 mil­lion sup­port­ing Wis­con­sin Gov. Scott Walk­er and his policies in 2011 and 2012 ahead of and dur­ing his ex­pens­ive re­call elec­tion. AFP also spent about a half-mil­lion dol­lars on North Car­o­lina’s state gov­ern­ment elec­tions in 2012, in­clud­ing some dir­ect mail sup­port­ing vic­tori­ous Gov. Pat Mc­Crory.

Since then, AFP re­mained act­ive in state-based policy fights in 2013, run­ning ad­vert­ise­ments in In­di­ana, North Car­o­lina, and else­where push­ing con­ser­vat­ive policy goals. Now that the elec­tion year has rolled around and 36 gov­ernors’ man­sions are up for grabs even as state law­makers keep writ­ing new le­gis­la­tion, we may start see­ing more ads like this one around the coun­try.

What We're Following See More »
Trump Won’t Debate Sanders After All
2 days ago

Trump, in a statement: “Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. ... I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”

UAW: Time to Unite Behind Hillary
3 days ago

"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.

Trump Clinches Enough Delegates for the Nomination
3 days ago

"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."

Trump/Sanders Debate Before California Primary?
3 days ago
California: It’s Not Over Yet
3 days ago

"Clinton and Bernie Sanders "are now devoting additional money to television advertising. A day after Sanders announced a new ad buy of less than $2 million in the state, Clinton announced her own television campaign. Ads featuring actor Morgan Freeman as well as labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta will air beginning on Fridayin Fresno, Sacramento, and Los Angeles media markets. Some ads will also target Latino voters and Asian American voters. The total value of the buy is about six figures according to the Clinton campaign." Meanwhile, a new poll shows Sanders within the margin of error, trailing Clinton 44%-46%.