MANCHESTER, N.H. — A political advocacy group backed by billionaire Charles Koch is getting in position for an active role in the 2024 presidential primary, with plans to endorse a Republican candidate other than former president Donald Trump.
Despite working with the Trump administration on several conservative and libertarian policy wins, Koch’s network took a largely hands-off approach to the 2020 presidential election, focusing instead on down-ballot races. This time around, the network plans to bolster someone who can defeat President Biden.
“The plan is to endorse the person that we believe is the best person to help the country move forward and lead into a more productive policymaking environment,” said Emily Seidel, the CEO of Americans for Prosperity, an influential political advocacy organization that’s part of Koch’s network.
Seidel spoke with reporters Wednesday at AFP’s New Hampshire office in Manchester during a short visit to the state. She said she came to meet with her team and members of the press to discuss AFP’s voter outreach operation.
Seidel explained in greater detail the group’s previously announced 2024 strategy — which, as she wrote in a February memo, is to “turn the page on the past” and “write a new chapter” for the country after conservatives suffered bruising defeats in 2022.
Citing recent polls, Seidel said an overwhelming majority of Americans don’t want Trump or Biden in 2024. And even among Republicans who like Trump, there are widespread concerns about his ability to win the general election, she added.
While it’s too soon to name names or even ballpark the number of potential GOP presidential candidates under consideration for an endorsement, Seidel said AFP is talking to voters nationwide, including in New Hampshire and other states with primaries early in the nominating calendar, to understand the issues that matter most to them and what qualities they want their next president to have.
“At some point later this year, when it’s clear who that best candidate is, we’ll be prepared to endorse him or her and then go back to these same voters and persuade them to support that person and make sure they turn out to vote,” she said.
“We want somebody who can turn the page on the last decade of politics in our country, lead our country forward, and win. And right now, Donald Trump’s campaign ... is not in a position to meet that criteria,” she added.
Seidel said AFP will emphasize policies to “reignite the American dream” by promoting freedom and opportunity. The group’s favored policy issues include reining in spending, reducing regulation, and promoting choice in education. The group doesn’t advocate around abortion, Seidel noted.
The AFP press shop has applauded the actions of numerous Republican leaders, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, who are mulling potential GOP presidential bids. DeSantis is widely viewed as Trump’s top rival.
The prospect of more AFP involvement in New Hampshire’s electoral politics drew a shrug from New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley.
“The billionaire Koch family’s money that they have dumped in the state — it runs through about a dozen different organizations — has not been that effective in general elections,” he said. “And we’re still turning blue, a little more blue every election.”