The Koch Brothers’ Next Frontier

Republicans at the state and local levels are greener than the national party, but perhaps not for long.

This illustration can only be used with the Clare Foran article that originally ran in the 11/22/2014 issue of National Journal magazine. 
Anna Parini
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Clare Foran
Nov. 21, 2014, midnight

It was spring 2014 in Kan­sas, and con­ser­vat­ives were run­ning ri­ot. Re­pub­lic­ans had one of their own in the gov­ernor’s of­fice and su­per­ma­jor­it­ies in both cham­bers of the state Le­gis­lature. After en­act­ing massive tax cuts and put­ting some of the na­tion’s strongest abor­tion re­stric­tions on the books, the GOP turned to en­ergy policy. The tar­get: a law de­mand­ing that power com­pan­ies be­gin buy­ing more en­ergy from wind farms, sol­ar plants, and oth­er re­new­able-power sources.

Once upon a time, the law had at­trac­ted bi­par­tis­an sup­port. In fact, it was passed by a Re­pub­lic­an-con­trolled Le­gis­lature. But that was a pre-tea-party GOP. A new gen­er­a­tion of con­ser­vat­ives now held sway in the state, and a law that told a com­pany what type of power it had to provide — and told con­sumers what they had to buy — had to go.

The state Sen­ate ap­proved the re­peal on March 25, and the next day, the meas­ure came to the House floor. That’s when Re­pub­lic­an Russ Jen­nings stepped onto the po­di­um and put his ca­reer on the line.

The first-term law­maker spoke on be­half of the man­date, in­sist­ing that the law was cre­at­ing jobs without bur­den­ing Kansans with high­er power bills. “There is an un­der­ly­ing, sug­ges­ted prom­ise that if [this] goes away today, to­mor­row our util­ity bills will go down. It is not true,” he told col­leagues. “This is noth­ing more than folks who want to ex­er­cise polit­ic­al power.”

In a sur­prise turn, Jen­nings won the day — by a land­slide. The House voted to block re­peal, with 44 Re­pub­lic­ans join­ing every Demo­crat in the cham­ber to keep the re­new­able-en­ergy man­date on the books.

In Wash­ing­ton, pip­ing up for a re­new­able-en­ergy stand­ard would put Jen­nings in the lone­li­est of corners of the na­tion­al GOP. Con­gres­sion­al Re­pub­lic­ans would view such a stat­ute as ex­actly the type of White House-backed, top-down gov­ern­ment in­ter­fer­ence in the free mar­ket that they are hop­ing to erase from fed­er­al law. Worse yet, it is a man­date based on a body of cli­mate sci­ence that most of them re­ject.

But in state­houses na­tion­wide — even those where Re­pub­lic­ans are run­ning the show — the GOP lacks the lock­step march on en­ergy policy that is com­ing to define the na­tion­al party. Cer­tainly, a power­ful fac­tion work­ing to undo the green-en­ergy laws has swept through states over the past dec­ade, but as in Kan­sas, their re­peal ef­forts have re­peatedly failed.

Over the past two years, at least 40 bills aimed at weak­en­ing or re­peal­ing clean-en­ergy man­dates have been in­tro­duced in le­gis­latures across the coun­try, ac­cord­ing to Col­or­ado State Uni­versity’s Cen­ter for the New En­ergy Eco­nomy. But not a single state has done away with its re­new­able-en­ergy stand­ard. Ohio came the closest when the GOP-con­trolled Le­gis­lature voted to freeze a man­date in May; but every­where else, re­peal bills have either been voted down or have died without get­ting a vote.

And Demo­crats are not to blame. Re­peal is be­ing thwarted by busi­ness-fo­cused Re­pub­lic­ans who are stick­ing up for the stand­ards be­cause they be­lieve they cre­ate jobs. In Kan­sas and North Car­o­lina, con­ser­vat­ive law­makers have voted against re­peal — while Re­pub­lic­ans in Min­nesota and Nevada ac­tu­ally cast votes to strengthen clean-en­ergy man­dates last year. Taken in sum, the moves are evid­ence of a Re­pub­lic­an brand of en­vir­on­ment­al­ism that sur­vives in the states years after it was snuffed out on Cap­it­ol Hill. But the GOP’s last green shoots might not last for long.

Wind farms like this one in Kansas are reaping the benefits of state green-energy laws. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images) AFP/Getty Images

The rap­id change in the na­tion­al Re­pub­lic­an plat­form was no ac­ci­dent. It was part re­ac­tion to Pres­id­ent Obama’s push for a cap on car­bon emis­sions, part product of cli­mate den­iers’ as­cend­ance in the party, and part brainchild of the mod­ern GOP’s staunch eco­nom­ic anti-in­ter­ven­tion­ists. And at every step, the right­ward pull on the party’s en­ergy po­s­i­tions was fueled by a group of ex­tremely wealthy and in­flu­en­tial power brokers, who blocked a set of fed­er­al green-en­ergy sup­ports and fossil-fuel reg­u­la­tions that at one point seemed in­ev­it­able.

Now those groups are turn­ing their at­ten­tion to the party’s roots, hop­ing to unite Re­pub­lic­ans against re­new­able-en­ergy man­dates, and in some cases work­ing to oust con­ser­vat­ives who won’t fall in line. This sum­mer, those forces came after Jen­nings.

YEARS BE­FORE Russ Jen­nings ran for a seat in the Kan­sas Le­gis­lature, Charles and Dav­id Koch were pre­par­ing to turn Amer­ic­an polit­ics on its head. The broth­ers, in­her­it­ors of Koch In­dus­tries and its $115 bil­lion in an­nu­al rev­en­ue, de­cided to pour their wealth in­to sup­port­ing con­ser­vat­ive causes. They’ve since cre­ated a sprawl­ing net­work of polit­ic­al groups, many of which are clas­si­fied as so­cial-wel­fare or­gan­iz­a­tions and thus not re­quired to dis­close their donors or much of their spend­ing.

The most in­flu­en­tial and best known of those groups is Amer­ic­ans for Prosper­ity, an or­gan­iz­a­tion that boasts 34 state chapters and claims 2.5 mil­lion act­iv­ists. AFP wields tre­mend­ous might on the na­tion­al stage, fun­nel­ing ever-great­er sums in­to House, Sen­ate, and pres­id­en­tial con­tests. (It is also par­tic­u­larly power­ful in Kan­sas, where Koch In­dus­tries is headquartered.)

En­ergy was among the net­work’s first tar­gets. In 2008, as as­cend­ant Demo­crats were dream­ing of a fed­er­al cli­mate bill, the Kochs were mo­bil­iz­ing a coun­ter­move­ment. That spring, AFP act­iv­ists huddled un­der um­brel­las in the pour­ing rain out­side the U.S. Cap­it­ol as the group kicked off a na­tion­wide tour to rally op­pos­i­tion to a na­tion­al car­bon cap. Speak­ers at the event called glob­al warm­ing “junk sci­ence,” and warned that the le­gis­la­tion would kill jobs. “Will you prom­ise me that you’re go­ing to talk to your elec­ted of­fi­cials, you’re go­ing to talk to your friends, and you’re go­ing to stand up and fight with us on this is­sue?” AFP Pres­id­ent Tim Phil­lips called to the crowd — a ques­tion that was answered with cheers of sup­port.

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It is easy to see why the Kochs might take a par­tic­u­lar in­terest in en­ergy policy. Koch In­dus­tries, which For­bes ranks as Amer­ica’s second-largest privately owned com­pany, over­sees thou­sands of miles of nat­ur­al-gas and crude-oil pipelines across North Amer­ica, and it also owns a sep­ar­ate re­fin­ing and chem­ic­al com­pany. The con­glom­er­ate’s size and scope make the broth­ers two of the coun­try’s wealth­i­est in­di­vidu­als, worth an es­tim­ated $42 bil­lion each.

But un­der a policy re­gime aimed at phas­ing out fossil fuels, the source of that wealth would start to dry up. And so when a newly elec­ted Pres­id­ent Obama, along with Demo­crat­ic ma­jor­it­ies in the House and Sen­ate, went to work on cli­mate change in 2009, the Kochs threw their full weight be­hind de­feat­ing the ef­fort.

At one point, cli­mate ac­tion ap­peared all but in­ev­it­able. Demo­crats were put­ting plans in place for com­pre­hens­ive le­gis­la­tion, and Re­pub­lic­ans were — at the very least — sym­path­et­ic. Former House Speak­er Newt Gin­grich joined then-Speak­er Nancy Pelosi on a love seat for a 30-second tele­vi­sion com­mer­cial de­mand­ing that cli­mate change be ad­dressed. Sen. John Mc­Cain, who had just won a primary elec­tion in Ari­zona, had been the main Re­pub­lic­an spon­sor of car­bon-cap le­gis­la­tion for sev­er­al pre­vi­ous ses­sions.

What happened next, for en­vir­on­ment­al­ists, is a dis­astrous piece of his­tory: The cli­mate bill squeaked through the House and stalled in the Sen­ate, fa­cing near-un­an­im­ous Re­pub­lic­an op­pos­i­tion as well as de­fec­tions from coal- and oil-state Demo­crats. “Cap-and-trade” be­came such a slur along the 2010 cam­paign trail that Joe Manchin — then a soon-to-be Demo­crat­ic sen­at­or from West Vir­gin­ia — ran an ad in which he shot a copy of the cap-and-trade bill with a hunt­ing rifle. Fol­low­ing Demo­crats’ midterm “shel­lack­ing,” in­com­ing tea-party can­did­ates — many of whom had won cam­paigns with AFP’s help — turned the fed­er­al cli­mate bill in­to a pipe dream and began to take aim at re­new­able-en­ergy sup­ports that were already in place.

But amid Cap­it­ol Hill’s re­versal on re­new­ables, an­oth­er story was play­ing out in state le­gis­latures. Over the past dec­ade, most states have weighed ad­opt­ing re­new­able-en­ergy stand­ards — laws that re­quire util­it­ies to pur­chase es­cal­at­ing amounts of power from wind tur­bines, sol­ar pan­els, and oth­er zero-car­bon-emis­sions sources. Twenty-nine states and the Dis­trict of Columbia now have man­dates in place. Many of those laws passed with bi­par­tis­an back­ing. Re­pub­lic­an-con­trolled le­gis­latures ap­proved stand­ards in Kan­sas, New Jer­sey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wis­con­sin. Re­pub­lic­an gov­ernors signed clean-en­ergy re­quire­ments in­to law in Con­necti­c­ut, Hawaii, Iowa, Mary­land, Min­nesota, New Jer­sey, Rhode Is­land, Texas, and Wis­con­sin. Col­lect­ively, the laws have be­come a lead­ing driver of clean-en­ergy in­vest­ment in the United States. And they’ve only been pos­sible be­cause some state-level Re­pub­lic­ans were will­ing to make a green leap that their Wash­ing­ton col­leagues were not.

But amid Cap­it­ol Hill’s re­versal on re­new­ables, an­oth­er story was play­ing out in state le­gis­latures.

THE KOCH EM­PIRE, however, has no in­ten­tion of let­ting those state-level policies stand. Bolstered by their vic­tory in Wash­ing­ton’s cli­mate de­bate, the broth­ers are now train­ing their polit­ic­al ma­chinery on state gov­ern­ments. In Kan­sas, North Car­o­lina, and else­where, AFP is push­ing to scrap the re­new­able man­dates it sees as vestiges of a mis­guided blip in the party’s past.

To help, the Koch net­work has the Amer­ic­an Le­gis­lat­ive Ex­change Coun­cil, a con­ser­vat­ive ad­vocacy or­gan­iz­a­tion that counts more than 2,000 state le­gis­lat­ors among its mem­bers. ALEC spe­cial­izes in writ­ing “mod­el le­gis­la­tion,” leg­al text that state law­makers can copy and paste in­to bills of their own. Best known among those mod­el bills is “Stand Your Ground,” which was ad­op­ted in dozens of states and in­voked in the de­fense of George Zi­m­mer­man after he fatally shot un­armed teen­ager Trayvon Mar­tin.

ALEC re­leased a tem­plate for le­gis­la­tion to re­peal re­new­able-en­ergy man­dates in Oc­to­ber of 2012. The Heart­land In­sti­tute, a con­ser­vat­ive think tank that con­tests the idea that glob­al warm­ing is man-made, took cred­it for writ­ing the le­gis­la­tion at the time of its re­lease. The bill says that clean-en­ergy stand­ards drive up the cost of do­ing busi­ness and calls the policy “a tax on con­sumers.”

AFP and ALEC are now work­ing in tan­dem to move re­peal for­ward. In 2013, AFP’s North Car­o­lina chapter un­veiled a le­gis­lat­ive wish list; on it was a re­quest that law­makers roll back the state’s re­new­able-en­ergy stand­ard. AFP de­scribes the man­date as gov­ern­ment med­dling in the free mar­ket at its worst. “What you have here is a bunch of goody-goody lib­er­als who want your money to put up sol­ar pan­els be­cause they want to tell you how to live,” says Dal­las Wood­house, who was AFP’s North Car­o­lina state dir­ect­or at the time of the re­peal push. For AFP, the re­new­able-en­ergy stand­ards smack of crony cap­it­al­ism as well. “This is the crack co­caine of sub­sidies. It’s like when people get hooked on drugs and they can’t get off,” Wood­house says. The or­gan­iz­a­tion also views the stand­ards as a de facto tax that hits poor fam­il­ies the hard­est. As Wood­house tells it: “You have people who are strug­gling to get by, and now be­cause of this, their elec­tri­city rates are go­ing to go through the roof.”

AFP found a le­gis­lat­ive cham­pi­on for the North Car­o­lina re­peal push in Mike Hager, the Re­pub­lic­an ma­jor­ity whip in the state House. Just over a month after the group called for a roll­back of the man­date, Hager in­tro­duced a re­peal meas­ure. Then the co­ali­tion dialed up its lob­by­ing. AFP put pres­sure on law­makers to com­mit to back­ing the le­gis­la­tion, in part by launch­ing a web­site ur­ging North Car­o­lina res­id­ents to con­tact their rep­res­ent­at­ives in sup­port of the bill. But the meas­ure did not gain much trac­tion in­side the State­house. After real­iz­ing he did not have the votes for an out­right re­peal, Hager put for­ward a watered-down draft in­ten­ded to freeze the man­date and then phase it out over time.

Ruth Samuelson helped defeat a bill intended to roll back North Carolina's renewable-energy mandate. (Jim R. Bounds/AP) AP

Ruth Samuel­son helped de­feat a bill in­ten­ded to roll back North Car­o­lina’s re­new­able-en­ergy man­date. (Jim R. Bounds/AP)On the day Hager brought his bill to a vote in a com­mit­tee he chaired, Wood­house was in the North Car­o­lina Cap­it­ol to re­mind Re­pub­lic­ans what AFP wanted. “They needed to know they would be held ac­count­able for that vote,” Wood­house re­calls. But something happened in Raleigh that doesn’t hap­pen in Wash­ing­ton. Des­pite the Koch money and ground game, Re­pub­lic­ans joined Demo­crats to kill the bill.

Chief among them was Ruth Samuel­son, the House Re­pub­lic­an Con­fer­ence lead­er, who would be hard-pressed to find a home in the na­tion­al party. Samuel­son’s con­ser­vat­ive bona fides are strong in most aren­as: She has in­tro­duced le­gis­la­tion re­strict­ing ac­cess to abor­tion, and she cham­pioned a con­tro­ver­sial voter-ID law that made its way through the House. She’s also hardly a mar­gin­al mem­ber of her party; she is a close ally of state House Speak­er and U.S. Sen.-elect Thom Tillis.

But Samuel­son backs the state’s re­new­able-en­ergy man­date, in­sist­ing that re­new­ables are pop­u­lar in her dis­trict — which stretches across the city of Char­lotte — and that the sup­port for sol­ar power has be­nefited the state eco­nomy. So she went to work per­suad­ing oth­er like-minded con­ser­vat­ives to vote against Hager’s bill, and in the end, she won.

The de­feat stung. For AFP, it still does. “Why do you have to go and bring up one of the worst times of my life?” Wood­house says when I ask about the vote. “Yeah, I was sur­prised. I was mad as hell.”

IF WOOD­HOUSE WAS SHOCKED then, he shouldn’t be now. AFP and ALEC have been denied sat­is­fac­tion all over Amer­ica. In Kan­sas, Russ Jen­nings thwarted the spring push to re­peal the state’s stand­ard. In 2014 alone, ef­forts to re­peal or weak­en re­new­able-en­ergy man­dates also failed to ad­vance in Ari­zona, Col­or­ado, Maine, Mis­souri, Pennsylvania, Rhode Is­land, and Wash­ing­ton.

The co­ali­tion’s only ma­jor suc­cess so far this year was in Ohio, where — with just a min­im­al ad­vocacy push — a bill to freeze the state’s man­date won pas­sage. Koch-backed groups gave their bless­ing to the meas­ure be­fore it was signed in­to law in June. But AFP was ab­sent from the lob­by­ing ef­fort that se­cured the le­gis­la­tion’s pas­sage, largely be­cause the or­gan­iz­a­tion had chosen to fo­cus its at­ten­tion on Kan­sas and North Car­o­lina, where it looked as if re­peal had a bet­ter chance. Then, this spring, to the sur­prise of polit­ic­al on­look­ers in the state, Ohio-based util­ity FirstEn­ergy muscled a freeze bill through the Le­gis­lature.

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Why hasn’t AFP had great­er suc­cess in the states? It’s not that these Re­pub­lic­ans are more lib­er­al than law­makers in Wash­ing­ton. Jen­nings won the en­dorse­ment of the NRA in his reelec­tion race, and he adam­antly op­poses fed­er­al reg­u­la­tions to curb car­bon pol­lu­tion from power plants. Samuel­son has backed le­gis­la­tion that would com­pel wo­men seek­ing an abor­tion to listen to the heart­beat of the fetus be­fore un­der­go­ing the pro­ced­ure.

But state le­gis­lat­ors — by defin­i­tion — are more loc­al in their fo­cus, and that puts them face-to-face with re­new­able-en­ergy pro­jects in their dis­tricts. In many parts of the coun­try, red states in­cluded, wind and sol­ar en­ergy are already big busi­ness. They’re not Ex­xon­Mobil or Koch In­dus­tries big, but they have lob­by­ing muscle and busi­ness in­terests of their own, and that’s enough to make state law­makers think twice be­fore go­ing against them, even if that means stand­ing against AFP.

Take Tim Moore, a Re­pub­lic­an state rep­res­ent­at­ive in North Car­o­lina and the chair­man of the state’s power­ful House Rules Com­mit­tee. Moore usu­ally sides with the most con­ser­vat­ive mem­bers of the Re­pub­lic­an lead­er­ship, but his dis­trict is home to a $27 mil­lion plant that man­u­fac­tures parts for sol­ar farms, so Moore sided with Samuel­son to help de­feat the roll­back of the state man­date last year. “It was based off loc­al is­sues back home,” he says when asked to ex­plain his vote. “I would have had a dif­fi­cult time talk­ing to a CEO … [and say­ing] I’m go­ing to vote to elim­in­ate this pro­gram that jus­ti­fied their in­vest­ment.”

Jen­nings, en­vir­on­ment­al­ists’ fa­vor­ite Re­pub­lic­an in Kan­sas, isn’t all ideal­ism either: Wind en­ergy has brought $7 bil­lion of in­vest­ment to the state, with much of that cap­it­al flow­ing in­to rur­al areas in the west. Wind tur­bines dot the south­east corner of Jen­nings’s dis­trict, part of an ar­ray that gen­er­ates enough en­ergy to power 65,000 homes. An­cil­lary re­wards of the clean-power boom are also ap­par­ent: a rail- and truck-de­liv­ery line built to trans­port wind tur­bines em­ploys some of Jen­nings’s con­stitu­ents. The wind in­dustry also keeps Jen­nings in mind: Just over one-fifth of all the dir­ect cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions he took in between Ju­ly and Oc­to­ber came from busi­nesses or in­di­vidu­als with a stake in the in­dustry, in­clud­ing clean-en­ergy sup­pli­er Nex­tEra En­ergy. Of the total $20,725 in con­tri­bu­tions that Jen­nings re­por­ted from that peri­od, $4,175 came from donors con­nec­ted to the in­dustry.

Viewed as a slice of the na­tion’s eco­nomy, re­new­able en­ergy’s share re­mains small, a frac­tion of what oil, gas, and coal con­trib­ute. And while the Sen­ate is filled with law­makers who hail from “oil states” or “coal states,” there’s no state yet where re­new­able en­ergy holds sim­il­ar sway. But in the state le­gis­lat­ive dis­tricts where it’s pro­duced, re­new­able en­ergy is a big enough play­er to wield con­sid­er­able clout.

In many parts of the coun­try, wind and sol­ar are already big busi­ness.

AMER­IC­ANS FOR PROSPER­ITY isn’t throw­ing in the tow­el. The Koch em­pire, fresh from spend­ing $100 mil­lion on the 2014 con­gres­sion­al midterm elec­tions to help de­liv­er the Sen­ate in­to the hands of Re­pub­lic­ans eager to un­wind cli­mate rules, is now pledging an­oth­er run at the states’ re­new­able-en­ergy stand­ards. Spe­cial at­ten­tion will be paid to Kan­sas and North Car­o­lina, ac­cord­ing to AFP’s na­tion­al is­sues cam­paign man­ager, Christine Har­bin Han­son. She says the group also plans to ramp up its re­peal ef­forts across the United States next year. And this time, when state le­gis­lat­ors weigh wheth­er to buck the em­pire, they’ll have seen how the Koch net­work goes after Re­pub­lic­ans who cross them.

Like Jen­nings. After his vote against re­peal, the Koch net­work tar­geted Jen­nings’s seat by fund­ing a Re­pub­lic­an primary chal­lenger. Koch In­dus­tries and the Koch-backed Kan­sas Cham­ber of Com­merce PAC wrote checks for his con­ser­vat­ive op­pon­ent, Stan Rice. AFP and the state Cham­ber PAC tried to paint Jen­nings as a lib­er­al. “Tell Russ Jen­nings that Kan­sas needs smal­ler and smarter gov­ern­ment, not big spend­ing like Wash­ing­ton,” one AFP mail­er read. “Russ Jen­nings’ lib­er­al agenda will cost us jobs. Say NO to the Obama/Se­beli­us agenda. Say NO to Russ Jen­nings,” read an­oth­er mail­er, paid for by the Kan­sas Cham­ber PAC.

AFP also ran ra­dio and tele­vi­sion at­tack ads against the state rep­res­ent­at­ive in his dis­trict. One star­ted with an im­age of the U.S. Cap­it­ol build­ing split­ting in half. “Obama­care has been a dis­aster,” a nar­rat­or’s voice states. “So why would Rep­res­ent­at­ive Russ Jen­nings vote against a bill in­ten­ded to pre­vent Obama­care from ex­pand­ing and im­pos­ing a $1.1 bil­lion cost on Kansans? Why would our rep­res­ent­at­ive side with Obama?” A photo of Jen­nings is shown side by side with an im­age of the pres­id­ent, as a red­dish-or­ange hue en­vel­ops the screen and dol­lar bills with wings flut­ter away.

AFP is not re­quired to dis­close the amount of money it poured in­to at­tacks against pro-man­date Re­pub­lic­ans dur­ing the Kan­sas primary. But Jen­nings, as well as five oth­ers who were tar­geted, say the ef­fort was sig­ni­fic­ant. Ac­cord­ing to re­cords filed with the Kan­sas Gov­ern­ment­al Eth­ics Com­mis­sion, the Kan­sas Cham­ber PAC spent at least $32,000 on cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions, along with mail­ers and ra­dio and tele­vi­sion ads, to back the con­ser­vat­ive chal­lengers. That’s a pit­tance at the fed­er­al level, but those dol­lars stretch fur­ther in state races. Re­cords also in­dic­ate that between Janu­ary and Ju­ly, Koch In­dus­tries gave the state Cham­ber PAC $75,000, nearly half of the busi­ness group’s total fun­drais­ing haul dur­ing that time.

But the at­tacks didn’t work. Jen­nings won his primary with 65 per­cent of the vote, and he waltzed through the gen­er­al elec­tion earli­er this month. Five oth­er Re­pub­lic­ans who voted to keep the clean-en­ergy man­date in place and were tar­geted by Koch-backed groups also sur­vived the chal­lenge.

Jen­nings went in­to the elec­tion with nearly three times the amount of money on hand as his con­ser­vat­ive primary chal­lenger. He raised $27,525 ahead of the primary, while his op­pon­ent took in just $9,430. Jen­nings at­trib­utes his suc­cess in part to what he de­scribes as the ag­gress­ive­ness of AFP’s coun­ter­at­tack — a mes­saging blitz that he says turned voters off.

AFP doesn’t see it that way. “All we did was get our is­sues out there. We’re try­ing to edu­cate voters about what’s im­port­ant,” says the group’s Kan­sas state dir­ect­or, Jeff Glenden­ing.

AFP set out to send a mes­sage to Re­pub­lic­ans that those who failed to op­pose clean-en­ergy man­dates would be held ac­count­able when primary sea­son rolled around. Jen­nings and oth­er Re­pub­lic­ans tar­geted by the group say that mes­sage was re­ceived. But des­pite more than two years of ef­forts led by AFP, both the man­dates and the can­did­ates who back them are safe. What worked in Wash­ing­ton has not worked in the states — even those in which AFP has had great suc­cess in oth­er policy aren­as. For now at least, the Re­pub­lic­an Party’s state and loc­al green shoots re­main in place. They’re faint, and they’re sparse, but they’re re­si­li­ent.

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