Koch network to spend $400 million during 2018 midterm election cycle

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – The network of groups affiliated with billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch will spend more than $400 million on conservative causes and candidates in the 2018 midterm election cycle.

Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips said Saturday that the investment would be the network’s largest election cycle investment ever — 60 percent greater than the 2016 presidential cycle — as Republicans seek to protect majorities in the House and Senate against stiff political headwinds.

The network notably stayed out of the 2016 presidential contest between President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: If there’s no wall, there’s no DACA fix Trump appears to call out Samsung over missing FBI text messages Trump Commerce pick told lawmakers he would look at reversing Obama move on internet oversight: report MORE and Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump appears to call out Samsung over missing FBI text messages House Judiciary Republican: Comey could be called to testify again Stakes intensify: Mueller seeks to question Trump MORE, although it spent heavily on Republican candidates and conservative causes. 

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Some of the $400 million for 2018 will be spent on electing GOP candidates. The network also plans to spend heavily promoting tax reform and other achievements of the GOP-controlled government, including Veterans Affairs reforms and Trump’s conservative judicial picks.

“We’re all in,” Phillips said, adding that the political landscape indicates that 2018 is “going to be a challenging year” for Republicans.

The party in power historically suffers losses in a midterm election.

Generic ballot polling for the House shows Democrats with a double-digit lead and Trump’s historically low approval rating for a first-term president could be a drag on the party.

The GOP’s effort to hold on to the House has been complicated by a raft of retirements, and there are worries that an energized liberal base could send the GOP to substantial losses.

Still, fundraising has been a bright spot for the GOP, with Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHouse Dems furious with Senate leaders Overnight Finance: Senate confirms Powell as Fed chair | Mulvaney declares ‘new mission’ for consumer bureau | Trump says solar tariffs will boost jobs GOP rep told aide they were ‘soul mates,’ but denies harassment claim MORE (R-Wis.) and outside groups aimed at electing Republicans raising enormous sums in 2017 to protect their majorities.

Hundreds of top conservative donors affiliated with the Koch network have gathered this weekend at the exclusive Renaissance Indian Wells resort in the California desert to strategize ahead of the 2018 midterms elections.

“We’re looking for candidates, policymakers who can credibly commit to helping people improve their lives,” said Brian Hooks, the co-chairman of the seminar.

The Koch network spent $20 million in support of the GOP’s tax-reform bill and plans to spend another $20 million to advertise its benefits, Hooks said.

“We’re hopeful,” Phillips said. “When you look at recent coverage of the public’s view of tax reform, it’s going up as they see pay raises.” 

The Koch network has attracted its biggest crowd of members ever to the winter seminar, with 550 conservative activists from around the country, including 160 first-timers.

“Charles Koch has challenged us and the other leaders in the network to step things up by an order of magnitude, that means tenfold,” said Hooks. “That’s what we’re going to do.”

This post originally appeared on The Hill

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