Indian Wells, Calif. — Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, said he has no illusions about the difficulty his group and its allies face in the 2018 political environment.
Speaking to reporters at the opening session of the Koch Seminar Network’s winter meeting, Phillips said he foresees a “very challenging environment at both the federal and state level to protect the policy majorities that made these victories possible.” (The group is eager to avoid being perceived as partisan, and thus emphasizes its preferred lawmakers as “policy majorities.” The overwhelming majority of political figures the Koch network and AFP supports are free-market conservative or libertarian-leaning Republicans.)
To deal with that challenging environment, the Koch network is prepared to spend a sum “on the high end” of $300 million to $400 million, according to James Davis, a spokesman for the network.
Phillips called that “the largest investment we’ve ever had in a midterm election. To give you a sense of that, that is 60 percent more than we [spent] in the in 2016 presidential cycle.”
Last year the group spent $20 million to promote the tax cut legislation that Congress ultimately passed, and this year the group is prepared to spend another $20 million to promote the benefits of the tax cut. The sum will be spent on digital and television advertising, town halls and “grassroots work,” Phillips said.
“We’re all in to try and protect those [majorities], and we know it’s going to be a challenging year,” Phillips said.
Phillips deflected any suggestion that President Trump worsened the outlook for the group’s political allies, saying it was just a recurring pattern in American politics for the president’s party to have a difficult year in the following midterms.
“You look back to 2010, President Bush in 2006, even Clinton in 1994 or Reagan in 1982,” he said. “Part of it is just the historical nature of the midterm.”
Americans for Prosperity has full-time staff in 36 states, including just about every state that is expected to have a high-profile Senate race in 2018: Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wisconsin.