Walker Gets Backed by Koch Brothers?
David Koch says he prefers Walker to other Republicans, NYT and New York Observer report.
“On Monday, at a fund-raising event in Manhattan for the New York State Republican Party, David Koch told donors that he and his brother, who oversee one of the biggest private political organizations in the country, believed that Mr. Walker would be the Republican nominee,” the Times reported.
“‘When the primaries are over and Scott Walker gets the nomination,” Mr. Koch told the crowd, the billionaire brothers would support him, according to a spokeswoman,” Times reporter Nicholas Confessore writes. Koch’s remark “drew laughter and applause from the audience of fellow donors and Republican activists, who had come to hear Mr. Walker speak earlier at the event, held at the Union League Club….Two people who attended the event said they heard Mr. Koch go even further, indicating that Mr. Walker should be the Republican nominee.”
Talk about a quick-rising candidate. Back in 2011, fresh-faced Gov. Walker had never met either of the Koch Brothers, and was humiliated by a prank caller pretending to be David Koch, who famously recorded the conversation. And as recently as last fall, Walker barely registered in any polls of potential Republican presidential candidates.
But Walker’s bill to all but eliminate collective bargaining rights made him a hero to conservative Republicans, and he checks every issue box the Koch Brothers care about. Walker, after all, has also signed a right to work law which will make it far harder to organize private sector unions, has opposed Obamacare and any rail projects, and has made policy decisions that are hostile to wind and solar companies in Wisconsin, assuring that Wisconsin continues and even increases its importation of fossil fuels. Koch Industries Inc. is heavily involved in the petroleum industry.
Koch told the New York Observer that Walker would easily beat Hillary Clinton in a general election. “No question about it,” he answered. “You know, if enough Republicans have a thing to say, why, he’ll defeat her by a major margin.”
Koch told the Observer he was most impressed by Mr. Walker’s answer to a “major question” he asked on how to improve the public education system? “Why, he spent about 15 minutes answering the question, and he did that brilliantly.’”
I have long argued that Walker would make a very strong candidate in the Republican presidential primary, most recently in this column. Walker has proven to be a strong campaigner with a steely ability to stay on message and a knack for shading his views depending on the audience he’s addressing. He checks all the boxes for conservatives, yet he has a way of sounding far less extreme than firebrands like Ted Cruz. The polls so far suggest GOP moderates are comfortable with Walker.
Walker’s biggest problem has been his huge disadvantage in fundraising compared to presumed GOP front-runner Jeb Bush, but the Koch Brothers could solve that issue in a right-wing minute. As Confessore notes in the Times, Koch’s favoritism toward Walker “could effectively end one of the most closely watched contests in the ‘invisible primary,’ a period where candidates crisscross the country seeking not the support of voters but the blessing of their party’s biggest donors and fund-raisers.”
David Koch made it clear that he and his brother are not endorsing any GOP candidate and that probably means the many advocacy groups they fund will stay neutral in the GOP primary, Confessore writes. But “according to the two attendees… Mr. Koch suggested that the Koch family might personally offer financial support to Mr. Walker.”
And that’s a family with an awful lot of money. Not to mention that even a quiet endorsement from Koch could open more doors to individual donors for Walker.
Since the Times story ran, Politico waded in with a counter-story suggesting the invisible primary isn’t over and that the Kochs may audition Jeb Bush as to whether he deserves the nearly one billion dollars the right-wing industrialists promise to spend on the 2016 campaign.
But this story also noted that the Kochs weren’t happy with Mitt Romney as the 2012 nominee and as a result, “are most likely to make a selection after the field has been winnowed to a few plausible candidates, perhaps giving their pick a boost against the establishment favorite.” That actually verifies that the Kochs won’t sit out the primary, will make a pick among the Republicans and it probably won’t be the establishment favorite, meaning Jeb Bush. And right now, Walker is clearly the leading alternative to Jeb.