Politico’s Maggie Severns reports from Colorado Springs, where the Koch Brothers are wrapping up their annual retreat of well-heeled Republican donors and the politicians who orbit them–and making decisions about where their precious dollars will be spent in a difficult upcoming midterm election:
The powerful Koch political network won’t help the Republican nominee in a crucial Senate race less than 100 days before the midterm elections, saying Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) doesn’t do enough to further the Koch’s policy issues to warrant their help in the race.
The announcement — made in front of hundreds of top conservative donors — came as the Koch network took steps to distance itself from the Republican Party during a weekend retreat. Cramer, Americans for Prosperity president Tim Phillips told the donors, co-sponsored legislation to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank and is “inconsistent” on a range of other issues that are key to the Koch network, such as reducing government spending and free trade…
Cramer is challenging Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) in a must-win contest that could decide the balance of power in the Senate during the next Congress. The Koch network recently took a minor step to help Heitkamp by thanking her for supporting reforms to Dodd-Frank financial law, but operatives were clear they don’t back Heitkamp on a variety of other issues during their talk.
Make no mistake: this is a highly public snub of the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s chosen candidate in the pivotal North Dakota Senate race, where Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is in the fight of her life to both hold her seat and in so doing put Democrats within striking range of taking control of the U.S. Senate. It’s a situation in which NRSC chairman Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, once a darling of the Koch political-industrial complex, surely wishes he had a unified front of Republican support.
Along with a deepening crisis in the House as generic ballots slip closer and closer to a Democratic landslide in November, flagging support for Republican Senate candidates from heavy hitting and long-critical Republican donors paints an increasingly dire picture for the GOP heading into election season. Any one of these developments could fairly be considered “the last thing Republicans need.” In aggregate it’s something very like a perfect storm.
Don’t feel too bad for Cory, though. He may not have planned for Donald Trump, but he wanted this job.