A political action committee affiliated with Charles and David Koch has announced its intention to focus energy on supporting a specific type of Democratic candidate, with the goal of protecting them against upstart primary challengers such as those seen in the 2018 election, according to CNBC.
The Koch Brothers PAC Americans For Prosperity said it will support incumbent candidates from any party who show a willingness to take principled political stands and seek to unite with others—protecting them from more extreme primary challengers who might seek to oust them.
From the AFP memo:
Support the primary election of lawmakers, regardless of political party, who stick their necks out to lead diverse policy coalitions. The threat of being primaried prevents policymakers from leading on difficult issues and driving principled policy reforms. AFP or AFP Action will be ready to engage contested U.S. Senate, U.S. House, and state-level primary races, including Republican, Democrat, Independent or otherwise, to support sitting legislators who lead by uniting with others to pass principled policy and get good things done.
The most prominent recent example of this situation is Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and her defeat of longtime incumbent and Democratic Party power player Joe Crowley in November 2018.
Another example is Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) who successfully primaried a 10-term incumbent in the Boston area.
Ocasio-Cortez’s and Pressley’s campaigns were a part of a nationwide effort by PAC Justice Democrats to recruit progressive candidates to challenge establishment lawmakers. Most of those candidates were unsuccessful, but Ocasio-Cortez’s shocking victory launched her into national stardom.
Other candidates supported by Justice Democrats include Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).
GQ pointed out that the Koch brothers’ effort to support more moderate incumbents actually lines up with what the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee:
The Kochs and other libertarian billionaires have probably realized by now that centrist Democrats—self-described liberals who support tax cuts, deregulating industries, and privatizing public services—are more reliable allies than ambitious and popular progressives with a concrete political agenda. Ocasio-Cortez, for example, has only been in office for six months but has helped make Medicare for All and the Green New Deal—which would be a particular headache for Koch Industries—national issues during a presidential primary.