Koch group backs Nikki Haley

It gives her big boost in race for GOP presidential nomination

GOP presidential hopeful Nikki Haley speaks during a campaign event on Monday, Nov. 27, 2023, in Bluffton, S.C. Haley is among a cluster of Republican candidates competing for second place in a GOP Republican primary thus far largely dominated by former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)
GOP presidential hopeful Nikki Haley speaks during a campaign event on Monday, Nov. 27, 2023, in Bluffton, S.C. Haley is among a cluster of Republican candidates competing for second place in a GOP Republican primary thus far largely dominated by former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)


NEW YORK -- Americans for Prosperity, the political arm of the Koch network, formally endorsed Nikki Haley's presidential campaign Tuesday, promising to commit its nationwide coalition of activists -- and virtually unlimited funds -- to helping Haley defeat former President Donald Trump in the GOP primary contest.

"AFP Action is proud to throw our full support behind Nikki Haley, who offers America the opportunity to turn the page on the current political era, to win the Republican primary and defeat Joe Biden next November," AFP president and CEO Emily Seidel wrote in a memo announcing the group's decision.

"She 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. 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 endorsement may help Haley address one of her biggest strategic liabilities.

Back in the spring, the Koch network began running ads across Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina -- the first three states on the GOP's presidential primary calendar -- focusing on questions about Trump's electability in next fall's general election against Biden. And still, Trump remains the overwhelming front-runner in the race.

Seidel said Tuesday Americans for Prosperity would immediately begin refocusing its efforts on boosting Haley's primary and general election campaigns with strategic advertising investments, mailers and voter contacts through the group's network of thousands of conservative activists.

At the same time, Seidel said her organization would focus on persuading reliable general election voters, who typically don't vote in primaries, to show up for Haley in this year's fast-approaching nomination contests.

Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung dismissed Americans for Prosperity as "the political arm of the China-first, America-last movement."

In a statement, DeSantis spokesperson Andrew Romeo likened the Koch endorsement to a contribution to the Trump campaign.

"Congratulations to Donald Trump on securing the Koch endorsement. Like clockwork, the pro-open borders, pro-jail break bill establishment is lining up behind a moderate who has no mathematical pathway of defeating the former president," Romeo wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. "Every dollar spent on Nikki Haley's candidacy should be reported as an in-kind to the Trump campaign. No one has a stronger record of beating the establishment than Ron DeSantis, and this time will be no different."

Yet the Koch network is convinced that Haley is better positioned to defeat Trump -- and Biden -- than DeSantis.

Meanwhile, Haley said she was honored to have the support of Americans for Prosperity, "including its millions of grassroots members all across the country."

"AFP Action's members know that there is too much at stake in this election to sit on the sidelines," she said in a statement. "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."

Information for this report was contributed by Meg Kinnard and Lisa Mascaro of The Associated Press.