Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley listens as she is introduced during a campaign stop in Hooksett, New Hampshire, U.S., November 20, 2023.
Brian Snyder | Reuters
The political network largely financed by billionaire Charles Koch endorsed former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley for president Tuesday, boosting her primary campaign against the Republican front-runner, former President Donald Trump.
The Haley endorsement by the Koch-backed super PAC Americans for Prosperity Action marks the end of a yearlong search for a viable Republican alternative to challenge Trump.
Haley “has what it takes to lead a policy agenda to take on our nation’s biggest challenges and help ensure our country’s best days are ahead,” the group said in a memo. “With the grassroots and data capability we bring to bear in this race, no other organization is better equipped to help her do it.”
The network has massive resources, and it said it is prepared to deploy them to boost the former South Carolina governor and to challenge Trump’s increasingly tight grip on his party’s presidential nominating contest.
Americans for Prosperity Action has already spent millions of dollars so far bashing Trump this cycle, arguing that he would lose a general election to President Joe Biden.
“I’m honored to have the support of Americans for Prosperity Action, including its millions of grassroots members all across the country,” Haley said in a statement following the announcement.
“AFP Action’s members know that there is too much at stake in this election to sit on the sidelines. This is a choice between freedom and socialism, individual liberty and big government, fiscal responsibility and spiraling debt. We have a country to save, and I’m grateful to have AFP Action by our side,” said Haley.
Charles Koch, head of Koch Industries.
Bo Rader | Wichita Eagle | Tribune News Service | Getty Images
In addition to an army of volunteers and staff across the country, the PAC has already raised over $70 million in the 2024 election cycle. Charles Koch himself has an estimated net worth of more than $50 billion, according to Forbes.
Koch has long supported free-market economic policies while championing, to a lesser degree, libertarian-leaning social policy. A separate AFP Action memo Tuesday focused solely on her economic agenda.
AFP Action’s internal polling shows Haley’s recent rise in key early states such as New Hampshire and Iowa, senior advisor Michael Palmer told reporters on a press call Tuesday. It also shows that a majority of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ supporters have a favorable view of Haley.
The Haley announcement was a major blow to DeSantis, who received AFP Action’s endorsement during his successful reelection campaign, just a year ago.
“Governor DeSantis has been a tremendous leader for the state of Florida,” said Emily Seidel, another senior advisor to AFP Action, during the press call. Nonetheless, she said, “Nikki Haley is the strongest candidate in this race.”
The Koch alliance with Haley also marks the latest phase in the on-again, off-again relationship between Trump and the larger Koch network.
During Trump’s first term in office, Koch-aligned groups scored several policy victories, including tax cuts and the confirmation of three conservative Supreme Court justices. The network traditionally backs Republican candidates.
But Koch’s groups have also had their differences with the former president, including fierce opposition to Trump’s trade war with China.
Trump, likewise, has used the Koch network as a proverbial punching bag over the years, claiming that its founders represent precisely the kind of “globalist” elites Trump’s MAGA movement is designed to counter.
Trump famously laced into the Kochs in a 2018 tweet storm, saying they had become a “total joke in real Republican circles, are against Strong Borders and Powerful Trade.”