Koch-backed group plans to help Trump's GOP rivals in 2024
The political network of influential groups financed by powerful conservative billionaire Charles Koch plans to oppose the 2024 presidential candidacy of former President Donald Trump — and will actively look to back an alternative during the Republican presidential primary, according to an Americans for Prosperity (AFP) official.
It is "time to turn the page" on Trump, an AFP senior staffer told CBS News, in reference to the 2024 political landscape.
In a memo shared with CBS News, AFP chief executive Emily Seidel wrote to supporters and donors that "the best thing for the country would be to have a president in 2025 who represents a new chapter."
AFP has sat out the past couple of GOP presidential cycles, but the group now joins the conservative Club for Growth in openly working to oppose Trump's 2024 candidacy. Several of the party's biggest individual donors, such as finance billionaires Kenneth C. Griffin and Stephen A. Schwarzman, have also signaled their opposition to Trump's current campaign — but others are holding back for now.
The news was first reported by The Washington Post.
The return of one of the biggest spenders in American politics to the presidential primary field poses a direct challenge to the former president's comeback bid. The three-page missive repeatedly suggests that AFP is taking on the responsibility of stopping Trump, with Seidel writing: "Lots of people are frustrated. But very few people are in a position to do something about it. AFP is. Now is the time to rise to the occasion."
The move marks the most notable example to date of an overt and coordinated effort from within conservative circles to stop Trump from winning the GOP nomination for a third straight presidential election. Some Republicans have grown increasingly frustrated with Trump after disappointing midterm elections in which he drew blame for elevating flawed candidates and polarizing ideas. But absent a consolidated effort to stop Trump, many critics fear he will be able to exploit GOP divisions and chart a course to the nomination, as he did in 2016.
Trump doesn't have any formal GOP opponents yet, but his former ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, is expected to announce her presidential bid in mid-February. Former Vice President Mike Pence, who has been considering his own 2024 run, will be visiting the early primary state of South Carolina in February as well.
While the memo didn't name a spending target, AFP's affiliated super PAC spent more than $69 million in the 2022 cycle, according to Federal Election Commission disclosures.
The AFP memo also said that the group "intends to engage earlier and more aggressively in congressional primaries, and bring more voters into the primary process, as well." The memo noted that in the 2022 midterms, AFP backed Sen. Eric Schmitt in the Republican Senate primary in Missouri, along with a number of other successful candidates in key House primaries as well.
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