The Democratic Party’s political machine has set its sights on Charles and David Koch. In Harry Reid‘s floor speeches, the multitude of releases coming from the DSCC, and a new ad released this week from Alaska Sen. Mark Begich, blasting the Koch brothers is shaping up to be a dominant message in the 2014 Democratic playbook. But is this really a smart play for Democrats?
— Voters don’t consider the billionaire duo from Kansas at the top of their 2014 priorities list. They care about jobs, they care about Obamacare, and they might even care about looming foreign policy crises. Most hardly are familiar with the Kochs. The messaging is strikingly similar to the Democratic attacks against well-funded outside groups, like the Chamber of Commerce over “foreign money” or DCCC hits against Karl Rove and Crossroads in 2010. Those attacks didn’t stop Republicans from netting 63 districts and retaking the House.
— The key for Democrats is trying to make a group as influential as the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity the centerpiece of the election. Usually, most attacks against well-heeled donors are about mitigating damage. But this time, Democrats are trying to make the Koch brothers akin to the candidate. The Alaska Senate never mentions the GOP frontrunner, Dan Sullivan, but blares K-O-C-H in giant letters.
— Watch how one of the Democratic Party’s best midterm hopes, Michelle Nunn, handles the Koch brothers. They own Georgia-Pacific, a company that employs thousands in the Peach State. Will she have to distance herself from her own party’s attacks?
The Democrats’ strategy makes sense as a way to rally liberal activists and donors to their cause. And the Koch brothers’ business activity could put some Republicans in uncomfortable positions. But with a difficult year looming, Democrats are ignoring history if they think it will be a silver bullet that will overcome voter dissatisfaction with the economy and the health care law.
— Alex Roarty
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