That was fast: Scott Walker has already won the Koch Primary

Earlier today, the New York Times reported that Charles and David Koch, conservative megadonors and kingmakers in the Republican Party, are ready to back Scott Walker’s bid for the White House ahead of his likely opponents. As David Koch told donors at a Manhattan fundraiser, “We will support whoever the candidate is…but it should be Scott Walker.”

The announcement is a body blow to Jeb Bush, the presumed (if unannounced) frontrunner in the race, and an even bigger diss of Rand Paul, who wrote a love letter to the Koch’s as part of TIME Magazine’s list of 100 most influential people in the world. You know, the one where Paul unironically asserted that the Kochs, who by themselves operate a political network whose cash flow rivals both major political parties, “have consistently lobbied against special-interest politics.”

That the Koch’s are backing Walker should come as a shock to no one. The only thing surprising about the Koch’s support for Walker is that it’s coming so early, before Walker has even announced his candidacy.

The ties between them are well-documented, going back to Walker’s gubernatorial runs in Wisconsin. Furthermore, of the candidates with a serious shot at winning the nomination, Walker is the most rabidly anti-union and most in need of the Koch’s cash. Jeb Bush has a deep fundraising network of his own, and so each dollar sent Walker’s way — directly to his campaign or indirectly via the Koch’s massive and murky political organization — is likely to buy far more influence if spent on Walker than if spent on a candidate with a more diversified donor portfolio.

The Koch Brothers are budgeting close to $900 million for the 2016 election cycle, spread out amongst multiple candidates for national, statewide and local office through their various dark-money PACs. It’s unclear as to how much of that money will go to Walker, and how much of it will come during primary season, but the fact that he has their stamp of approval could prove to be huge for Walker amongst the GOP elite.

At this stage of the primary process, endorsements matter as much if not more than polls, and Walker just (informally) got two big ones.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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