Americans for Prosperity Action, a prominent advocacy organization supported by billionaire Charles Koch and his coalition of wealthy conservatives, has officially thrown its weight behind Nikki Haley as the preferred Republican alternative to Donald Trump in the upcoming 2024 primary, set to kick off in less than 50 days with the Iowa caucus.
According to a memo circulated by Emily Seidel, the CEO of Americans for Prosperity, Haley, a former U.N. ambassador and ex-governor of South Carolina, is seen as offering “America the opportunity to turn the page on the current political era.” Seidel emphasized Haley’s capability to lead a policy agenda that addresses the nation’s major challenges, expressing confidence that the organization’s grassroots and data capabilities uniquely position them to support Haley effectively.
Michael Palmer, a senior adviser to AFP Action, noted that Haley’s policies closely align with the group’s free market ideology, acknowledging that while disagreements on specific issues exist, Haley represents the best chance to enhance the lives of all Americans.
In response to the endorsement, Haley expressed her gratitude, stating, “AFP Action’s members know that there is too much at stake in this election to sit on the sidelines,” underscoring the importance of saving the country and expressing appreciation for AFP Action’s support.
Notably, the Koch-backed group refrained from involvement in the 2016 and 2020 presidential cycles but is now poised to channel significant resources into boosting Haley’s campaign. Although the exact amount of spending remains undisclosed, AFP Action, having raised over $70 million, including substantial contributions from Charles Koch and his nonprofit groups, aims to make a substantial impact.
The organization initially signaled opposition to Trump in February, citing concerns about his ability to defeat President Joe Biden. However, despite these reservations, Trump has strengthened his position within the Republican base, leading his closest primary rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, by nearly 50 points in national polls. In contrast, Haley trails DeSantis in the national average.
The dynamics shift in early-voting states, where Trump faces a relatively weaker position. DeSantis, Haley, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are banking on potential upsets in Iowa, New Hampshire, or South Carolina to position themselves as viable alternatives, although their campaigns have yet to significantly erode Trump’s standing.
AFP Action, optimistic about its potential impact, revealed internal memos suggesting that a substantial portion of GOP voters in Iowa and New Hampshire are undecided or believe the primary campaign has just begun. Furthermore, the organization believes that a significant majority of Republicans are open to a Trump alternative if they perceive a better chance of victory.
Following the Tuesday endorsement, AFP Action plans to transition from identifying wavering Trump voters to persuading against him. Their strategy involves concentrated efforts on behalf of their chosen candidate, accompanied by a new ad spot released alongside the endorsement. Large-scale events and efforts to drive turnout are also in the works.
In response to the endorsement, DeSantis’ campaign sought to downplay its significance, labeling Haley as a “moderate” without a viable path to defeating the former president. The Trump campaign, in its statement, characterized AFP Action as part of an “America Last movement” but remained resolute that Washington’s “swamp creatures” would not impede Trump’s bid for the Republican nomination.
The endorsement of Haley introduces a potentially pivotal development in the 2024 race. While no candidate with leads as substantial as Trump’s in the primary has failed to secure their party’s nomination, Trump’s campaign faces unprecedented legal challenges, adding a layer of complexity with court appearances and trial dates.
Seidel, CEO of Americans for Prosperity, highlighted that early in the election cycle, 70% of Americans expressed a preference for neither Trump nor Biden to run. The organization’s endorsement aims to prevent squandering this opportunity for a different political trajectory.