The two groups at the heart of the Koch brothers’ political network spent a combined $100 million on competitive races in 2014, spokesmen for the organizations tell National Journal.
Americans for Prosperity, a nonprofit organization that serves as the Koch brothers’ flagship political enterprise, spent $77 million on competitive Senate and House races, said spokesman Levi Russell. That total includes $56 million from AFP on TV, radio, and digital ads and direct mail, and another $21 million on grassroots efforts from their state chapters.
Freedom Partners Action Fund, a super PAC, is slated to spend $25 million by the time the cycle finishes, said spokesman Bill Riggs, including the $2.1 million it has reserved for the runoff Senate race in Louisiana.
The pair worked in tandem this year: AFP bombarded the TV airwaves early in key Senate races to coincide with the botched implementation of Obamacare, softening up many Democratic incumbents before many of their campaigns had even kicked into gear. The groups’ staggering spending figures will be credited with helping Republicans create what is shaping up to be a wave election for the party.
“The biggest decision strategically that we made was going so early with our ad effort,” said AFP President Tim Phillips. “When we launched last year, it was probably unprecedented for an off-year cycle. I don’t recall anyone spending tens of millions in early September through Memorial Day in an off-year.”
By the summer, AFP had switched its emphasis to its grassroots network while Freedom Partners started spending heavily on the air.
Democrats tried to make the Koch brothers a centerpiece of their campaign, a move that elicited criticism but one party strategists vowed would make Republicans look like puppets of a pair of selfish billionaires. Nobody railed harder against them than Harry Reid, who took to the Senate floor earlier this year to argue they were trying to “buy our democracy.”
That strategy will likely be heavily scrutinized by Democratic operatives as they try to determine how the party suffered such deep losses. It’s unlikely Republicans will offer the same scrutiny to the Koch network.
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With three days until the first debate, the polls are coming fast and furious. The latest round:
- An Associated Press/Gfk poll of registered voters found very few voters committed, with Clinton leading Trump, 37% to 29%, and Gary Johnson at 7%.
- A McClatchy-Marist poll gave Clinton a six-point edge, 45% to 39%, in a four-way ballot test. Johnson pulls 10% support, with Jill Stein at 4%.
- Rasmussen, which has drawn criticism for continually showing Donald Trump doing much better than he does in other polls, is at it again. A new survey gives Trump a five-point lead, 44%-39%.
In contrast to Hillary Clinton's meticulous debate practice sessions, Donald Trump "is largely shunning traditional debate preparations, but has been watching video of…Clinton’s best and worst debate moments, looking for her vulnerabilities.” Trump “has paid only cursory attention to briefing materials. He has refused to use lecterns in mock debate sessions despite the urging of his advisers. He prefers spitballing ideas with his team rather than honing them into crisp, two-minute answers.”
Donald Trump "is on the precipice of becoming the only major-party presidential candidate this century not to reach out to millions of American voters whose dominant, first or just preferred language is Spanish. Trump has not only failed to buy any Spanish-language television or radio ads, he so far has avoided even offering a translation of his website into Spanish, breaking with two decades of bipartisan tradition."
Bill and Hillary Clinton have purchased the home next door to their primary residence in tony Chappaqua, New York, for $1.16 million. "By purchasing the new home, the Clinton's now own the entire cul-de-sac at the end of the road in the leafy New York suburb. The purchase makes it easier for the United States Secret Service to protect the former president and possible future commander in chief."