The midterms may be over, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told allies on election night that he plans to keep fighting against the powerful billionaire conservative brothers Charles and David Koch and their donations for the Republican Party.
Throughout the current election cycle, the Nevada Democrat pushed liberal groups to spend millions of dollars to tie the GOP to the Koch brothers, reports Politico
, with some Democrats calling the push a waste of money after the party lost so many seats in the Tuesday election.
However, some of the groups, including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the numerous entities run by billionaire liberal Tom Steyer and one-time conservative writer David Brock's American Bridge said they plan to continue with their fight against the Kochs' money as the 2016 presidential campaigns gear up.
On Thursday, American Bridge sent an anti-Koch memo to senior Democratic congressional aides and groups, saying the Republicans' new control over the Senate shows the billionaire brothers' reach.
"This will be easier now that they are in power," said Brock in the memo, which was provided to Politico. "Our efforts will continue, because the alternative — staying quiet as these secretive billionaires pour hundreds of millions into politics to further their own bottom line — is impossible."
The Kochs' groups are overseen by Freedom Partners, and the network, through its Americans for Prosperity, spent approximately $290 million in the midterms, mainly through ads linking Democrats to increasingly unpopular President Barack Obama
Reid has repeatedly slammed the Koch brothers and their spending on the Senate floor, including in September, when he announced that the Senate would, for its first order of business in the two-week session, propose a constitutional amendment
giving Congress the power to regulate campaign spending.
Keeping up the fight against the Koch brothers could also eventually benefit potential Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who is likely to come under attack from the Koch brothers' groups, reports Politico.
However, the fight isn't likely to get the backing of all Democrats, as many are complaining that the money spent fighting the Koch brothers could have been better spent elsewhere.
"It’s utterly ineffective," Democratic strategist Thomas Mills told Politico. "Elections have to be about voters and what candidates will do for them, and this strategy is more about the candidates. It says, 'Look at me! Help me — they are spending money against me.' There’s no connection between that and voters."
Mills, of North Carolina, said he watched as Koch-supported groups spent millions attacking incumbent Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan in her battle against Republican challenger Thom Tillis, who narrowly defeated her.
And the focus on the Koch brothers didn't move any voters, said Rob Collins, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
"It was a dumb debate; it was stupid," he told reporters Thursday.
Meanwhile Steyer, a retired San Francisco hedge fund billionaire, donated at least $67 million to his super PAC formed to fight Republicans who oppose his fight on climate change. The ads also connected the problem with Republicans connected with the Kochs, and Steyer's political adviser Chris Lehane said the ads worked.
"As Michigan demonstrated, in an ecology where voters justifiably feel like they are not getting a fair shake, connecting the dots between a polluter a science-denier candidate and the specific harms being felt by a community is a powerful message," Lehane said.
But Geoff Garin, a top Democratic pollster and chief strategist for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential run, said that the ads against the Koch brothers' need to go even further.
"With the benefit of hindsight, if anything we took the foot off the gas pedal too quickly and moved on to other frames even though the Koch frame was proving to be an important one for voters," Garin told Politico.
"If there’s any regret, it’s not that we did too much of the Koch ads, it’s that we did too little and didn’t do it for deeper into the campaign."
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