Nikki Haley wins backing from powerful Koch network as she aims to take on Donald Trump
Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis debate. Image via AP.

Haley DeSantis
The endorsement drew sarcasm from the camps of both the former President and Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Some big money is going on  Nikki Haley’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination as Americans for Prosperity (AFP) formally endorsed her campaign, promising to commit its national coalition of activists — and virtually unlimited funds — to helping her 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,” Seidel continued. “With the grassroots and data capability we bring to bear in this race, no other organization is better equipped to help her do it.”

Haley’s coronation as the billionaire-funded political network’s choice for President prompted some off-the-charts sarcasm from the Ron DeSantis presidential campaign — congratulating Donald Trump for the endorsement. That declaration and AFP’s snub also had Trump’s supporters sneering.

Still, Haley’s endorsement from the Americans for Prosperity (AFP) super PAC, which Charles Koch largely funds, is undoubtedly a blow to DeSantis’ White House hopes. The Governor has long portrayed himself as Republicans’ best hope for beating President Joe Biden in light of the baggage from Trump’s first term. AFP’s Tuesday endorsement alluded to the troubles Trump is facing in the form of 91 criminal indictments.

“When we announced our decision to engage in our first ever Republican Presidential primary, we made it clear that we’d be looking for a candidate who can turn the page on our political dysfunction — and win, Seidel said in a statement.

DeSantis previously had been the donor class’s darling. He had garnered seven-figure donations from billionaire investor Ken Griffin, now of Coral Gables, and trader and investor Jeffrey Yass, who is the world’s 42nd-richest person.

The DeSantis camp’s reaction to the endorsement Tuesday came at lightning speed, ridiculing the idea that Haley has a chance of winning the Primary Election.

“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,” read a prepared statement from DeSantis’ Communications Director Andrew Romeo. “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.”

Trump’s supporters praised Romeo’s sarcasm with its own dose of mockery.

“The Ron DeSantis campaign finally got it right when they bitterly attacked Americans for Prosperity for being a vessel of globalist shills,” reads a statement from from Karoline Leavitt, a spokeswoman for Trump’s super PAC Make America Great Again Inc. “That’s exactly why AFP backed Ron Desantis in his 2018 and 2022 gubernatorial races.”

The endorsement — and the DeSantis camp’s satire — only accentuates the divide between career politicians who are tools of the billionaire class and Trump, “the one man who delivers for the American people,” according to a release from Trump’s supporters.

“Americans for Prosperity has already lit millions of dollars on fire (in) this primary only to watch President Donald Trump’s lead grow,” Leavitt continued. “No amount of money can break the bond President Trump has with voters. He kept his promises.”

Haley’s endorsement means the AFP will puts its grassroots operation in 50 states into action for the first Indian American to run for President. According to an AFP news release, it also means extensive mail, digital and connected TV campaigns to supplement those efforts.

DeSantis previously had seemed a natural for AFP’s nod. He enjoyed early favor in the polls, with some earlier in the year showing him even besting the former President. But the latest polls show Haley, the former South Carolina Governor and former United Nations ambassador, gaining on him and passing him in some key states. Even the polls in Iowa show Haley poised to snatch second place there, even though DeSantis has made it a point to visit every one of the state’s 99 counties.

In recent weeks, bettors have begun rating Haley over DeSantis for winning the Republican presidential nomination and the General Election in 2024. This week, in the Primary market, Trump has an aggregated 78.4% chance of winning the nomination, with Haley in a distant second place at 11.5% and DeSantis farther back still, with a 5.7% chance, according to investors.

___

Florida Politics reporter A.G. Gancarski and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


14 comments

  • Michael K

    November 28, 2023 at 11:29 am

    Somebody is jealous.

  • Tom

    November 28, 2023 at 11:49 am

    So … the end is nigh for the desanti. Queue the fat lady.

  • Who killed Peter Antonacci?

    November 28, 2023 at 12:50 pm

    The Koch’s are terrible, despicable sub-human trash, but they’re smart enough not to get involved with a guy who covered up a death in his office.

  • PeterH

    November 28, 2023 at 1:42 pm

    The Koch family enterprise understands the Ron DeSantis is even more toxic for American free enterprise than Donald Trump.

    Republicans are America’s worst enemy!
    Vote all Republicans out of office!

  • Earl Pitts "America's-Go-To-Political--Guru" American

    November 28, 2023 at 7:25 pm

    Good evening America,
    The Koch Brothers are The Right’s George Soros and Son.
    Both are evil pieces of stink human excitement and Nikki Haley’s campaign has just reached up from the 🚽 toilet bowl and activated the flush handle by associating with the Koch Brothers.
    This nugget of political truth and wisdom has been brought to you by Earl Pitts American
    Good bye Nikki.
    EPA
    *FREE BUMPER STICKER*
    EARL SAYS VOTE DESANTIS*

    • rick whitaker

      November 29, 2023 at 8:27 am

      earl, lay down and take a nap before nikki has to spank you. bad boy.

      • Earl Pitts "America's-Go-To-Political--Guru" American

        November 29, 2023 at 8:38 am

        Thanks as always Rick,
        Don’t forget Buddy that my, Earl Pitts American’s, *BUMPER STICKERS* make great and beloved Holiday Stocking Stuffers🧦 for gifting to friends and family.
        Earl Pitts American

        • rick whitaker

          November 29, 2023 at 8:56 am

          go sit on santa’s lap. that christmas crap don’t work on me, i don’t believe in christian fairy tales, you obviously do. suck on a candy cane until you find something you like better. bumper stickers, you gotta be kidding. i wouldn’t blemish my car with a redneck sticker.

  • My Take

    November 28, 2023 at 10:32 pm

    Koch. The name rings a bell.
    The Bìtch of BPuchenwald !

    • My Take

      November 28, 2023 at 10:35 pm

      Bùchenwald.
      The tattood lampshade “lady.”

  • Ocean Joe

    November 29, 2023 at 4:26 am

    Who has done more to cook the planet and end civilization for the sake of money than the Koch brothers? Of course if the world has to burn at least the semi-fascist is the better choice.

  • Sonja Fitch

    November 29, 2023 at 7:08 am

    Omg I love it!!! The Koch Brothers have taken their money and put in a damn Winner! Desantis and Trump laughing my ass off. Losers ! Losers! Get out both Desantis and Trump!

  • Lapdog Lapado

    November 29, 2023 at 10:05 am

    Ron was right; an immigrant took his job. 🎉🎊🖕🏼

  • My Take

    November 30, 2023 at 12:39 am

    I wonder what all the demeaning good-ol-boy GOPer goober pols in SC think of her rising so far above them?

Comments are closed.


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