Back in the summer, it became clear that former President Donald Trump has an extremely powerful foe that he won’t be able to easily defeat.
Trump’s signature name-calling and mockery are likely to have little effect on swaying voters.
One reason is that this isn’t another political rival who is seeking the Republican nomination for president in next year’s primaries.
Rather this is someone who is working behind the scenes. He is a billionaire with more money than Trump and likely even more clout with conservative donors – and more importantly, he is now determined to derail the former president’s chances of returning to the White House.
That individual is Charles Koch, who along with his late brother David, became a de facto “kingmaker” for libertarian and conservative candidates.
“The Koch Brothers,” as they were famously known, successfully built a political network of donors, and funneled the financial revenue into television and multi-media advertising that often delivered results. They spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to bring their libertarian views into the mainstream.
Dethroning Donald Trump
Now Charles Koch will use his influential network, not to mention vast sums of money already raised from donors – reported to be more than $70 million as of early July– to encourage Republican voters to move on from Trump.
Koch’s Americans for Prosperity Action pledged back in the summer to back a single contender in the GOP presidential primary for the first time in its history, The New York Times first reported back a few months ago.
AFP Action has yet to announce whom it will support next year, but it is believed that the group could dramatically reshape the Republican field by deploying its vast resources and standing army of conservative activists on behalf of a single candidate.
Back in the summer, it was announced that two organizations affiliated with Koch have raised the lion’s share of the war chest.
This includes $25 million from Charles Koch’s Kansas-based industrial conglomerate Koch Industries, and another $25 million from Stand Together, a nonprofit he founded.
The paper of record also cited a preliminary draft of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings for Americans for Prosperity Action, which stated that its major donors include Art Pope, a North Carolina businessman who attended a policy retreat hosted by former Vice President Mike Pence before he joined the presidential race; Craig Duchossois, a Chicago businessman; Jim and Rob Walton, brothers and heirs to the Walmart fortune; and Ron Cameron, an Arkansas poultry magnate.
Michael Palmer, president of the Koch-affiliated voter data group i360, wrote in a memo a few months ago that suggested that the former president’s inevitability to be the GOP nominee “is being pushed by left-leaning media outlets, political operatives and the Trump campaign itself.”
Palmer also suggested that the country is in a much different place than it was eight years ago. “Voters of all stripes (including GOP. primary voters) have a changed base of knowledge regarding the former president, and other candidates will most certainly treat him differently in the primary this time around.”
The Digital Campaign
CNN also reported back in the summer that the group is launching new digital spots, which attempt to cast Trump as a candidate Republicans can’t risk supporting in 2024.
“Instead of making (President Joe) Biden answer for his reckless progressive agenda, Trump makes the debate about indictments, personal grievances and the election he lost,” suggests the first 30-second spot, titled “The Choice.”
The second spot, titled “Unelectable,” goes on to describe Trump as a serial loser who caused Republicans to lose the House, Senate, and the White House. “If Donald Trump is the GOP nominee, we could lose everything,” the narrator warns.
The Trump Campaign Fires Back
Not surprisingly, the Trump campaign wasn’t all too pleased with the decision by Charles Koch to work so openly against the former president.
“President Trump continues to fight against the swampy D.C. insiders who would love nothing more than to have an establishment puppet they can control in the White House,” Trump spokesman Steven Cheung said in an email to CNN back in late June. “No amount of dirty money from shady lobbyists and mysterious donors will ever stop the America First movement, and that’s why President Trump continues to dominate poll after poll — both nationally and statewide. We welcome this fight.”
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.