Avoid the Koch brothers. That’s the message coming from the Republican National Committee as recently as last week. It’s the latest chapter in a feud between the powerful political fundraising network and the RNC. But do down-ballot Republicans need the Kochs to succeed in the November midterms?
Sullivan says that recent internal Republican party struggles are between those who differ on trade policy.
“The president has been very aggressive on tariffs and going after China and even some of our allies in Europe and Canada,” Sullivan says. “Traditional party leadership, particularly folks like the Kochs and other long-time big activists, tend to be more free trade and I think are getting very uncomfortable with the president’s rhetoric. It remains to be seen, in my view, rhetoric or actual long term shift in strategy.”
Sullivan says the Kochs are looking to support candidates who advocate free trade, no matter how far they differ from the current Republican party on other issues.
“It appears as though the Kochs hinted at least they might be open to supporting Democrats who are more philosophically aligned with them and that set the RNC off,” Sullivan says. “[The RNC’s] core mission is to support Republicans of course, but the leading Republican is the president of the United States and the vice president and they have to work them very closely and I suspect that’s what led to some of this rhetoric.”
Despite the president’s tweets saying the Kochs are “highly overrated,” Sullivan says that down-ballot Republicans need all the votes they can get for this upcoming election.
“It is widely seen as a challenging year. again, both parties are fractured and increasingly balkanized in their political base, [but] Texas Republicans need strong third-party efforts to get out to vote, to help organize to get people to the polls, [and] they also need the president,” Sullivan says. “It’s a minefield for Republicans who are on the ballot this year, particularly the members of congress who are in somewhat challenging positions here in Texas.”
Written by Haley Butler.