Multibillionaire Koch Brothers to Back Single GOP Candidate Not Named Trump in 2024 Presidential Primary

(Phelan M. Ebenhack, Bo Rader/The Wichita Eagle via AP)

The multibillionaire Koch brothers, who arguably fuel the most powerful donor network in conservative politics, are vowing to support a single presidential candidate in the 2024 Republican primaries as part of a  concerted effort to deny former President Donald Trump a third nomination.


As reported by The New York Times, the Koch Network, created by industrial brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch, plans to “turn the page on the past.” While Trump’s name isn’t mentioned — nor is an alternative candidate — an internal memo contains a thinly veiled rebuke of the former president.

The Republican Party is nominating bad candidates who are advocating for things that go against core American principles. And the American people are rejecting them. [Democrats are responding with] policies that also go against our core American principles.

Our country must move past the current political situation—we’ve got to turn the page on the past several years. If we want to elect better people, we need better candidates. And if we want better candidates, we’ve got to get involved in elections earlier and in more primaries.

Regardless of the political figures involved in any election, Einstein’s definition of insanity — “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” — is at play, here.

Here’s more, via The Times:

The network, which consists of an array of political and advocacy groups backed by hundreds of ultrawealthy conservatives, has been among the most influential forces in American politics over the past 15 years, spending nearly $500 million supporting Republican candidates and conservative policies in the 2020 election cycle alone. But it has never before supported candidates in presidential primaries.

The potential move against Mr. Trump could motivate donors to line up behind another prospective candidate. Thus far, only the former president has entered the race.

The memo is set to go out to the affiliated activists and donors after a weekend conference in Palm Springs, Calif., where the network’s leaders laid out their goals for the next presidential election cycle. At various sessions, they made clear they planned to get involved in primaries for various offices, and early.


The memo’s author is Emily Seidel, chief executive of the lead nonprofit group in the network, Americans for Prosperity (AFP). Seidel outlined the group’s principles in the memo, which are expected to be adopted by other conservative groups in the network now known as “Stand Together.”

As The Times noted, Americans for Prosperity’s super PAC spent nearly $80 million during the 2022 midterm elections, but that’s likely only a fraction of the network’s overall spending, much of which was undertaken by nonprofit groups that will not be required to reveal their finances until this fall.

The Koch brothers weren’t fans of Trump in 2016, while many of their donors were, so the brothers stayed out of the 2016 GOP primaries. When Trump 2020 rolled around, the various groups had seen mixed records as related to their specific goals, and in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election, many of the Trump apologists in the network have “soured on the ex-president.” Seidel said as much in the memo:

To write a new chapter for our county, 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.

In response to a lesson learned by the Koch network from the primary campaign in the 2022 midterm election cycle, the memo stresses in boldface that “the loudest voice in each political party sets the tone for the entire election. In a presidential year, that’s the presidential candidate.”


I’m not sure I buy the above, at least not entirely, but the 2016 Republican presidential primaries provided a perfect example.

While the Koch Network is no fan of Trump, it bears noting that the network did back some Trump-led efforts — spending heavily, for example, to promote his $1.5 trillion tax code overhaul in 2017 — despite clashing with Trump and the Republican National Committee on other political and policy matters.

As to the network’s reach, Seidel said AFP and AFP Action participated in more than 450 races in the 2022 midterms, knocked on more than seven million doors, and sent out more than 100 million mail pieces.

The Bottom Line

As the various groups of conservative (and pretend conservative) wagons continue to be circled, it couldn’t be clearer that barring a miracle, the 2024 Republican presidential primary season is going to make the 2016 GOP primaries look like a walk in the park.

That said, one thing will be certain: Conservatives who prefer a 2024 nominee not named Trump will be better served the sooner they coalesce around a single alternative, rather than splitting the GOP primary vote among multiple candidates not named Trump, as the “Stand Together” network wisely plans to do.


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