Is it possible that Democrats may take back control of the U.S. Senate with the help of the Koch Brothers? As improbable as that sounds, it could actually happen.
Americans for Prosperity, a member of the powerful Koch network supported by conservative billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, has launched a digital advertising campaign supporting Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota for her co-sponsorship of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protect Act.
The new legislation will be eliminating Dodd-Frank regulations on community banks, or those with less than $100 billion in assets. The bill had bipartisan support in being approved by the Senate, and Heitkamp was one of the Democratic Party senators who voted in favor of the bill.
“Congress achieved a significant milestone in lifting some of the toughest restrictions Dodd-Frank placed on small banks and their consumers. This was a bipartisan effort made possible by lawmakers like Heidi Heitkamp who put politics aside to work together,” Tim Phillips, president for Americans for Prosperity, said in a statement.
“While we don’t agree with Sen. Heitkamp on everything, particularly her vote against tax relief, we commend her for taking a stand against the leaders of her party to do the right thing. We hope to find common ground and work with Sen. Heitkamp on other issues moving forward including making tax relief permanent,” he added.
If Heitkamp wins reelection it will be considered a mild upset because not only has she trailed in many polls but she is a Democrat representing a state that Donald Trump won big in 2016.
The move by the Koch network is a surprise since just a few months ago they attacked Heitkamp for voting against the Republican tax reform bill in December.
The support for Heitkamp shows that the Koch network is starting to lobby for its policy initiatives in Congress and will back legislators regardless of party affiliation. Other Koch-supported issues with bipartisan support include criminal justice reform and protection for the Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
“AFP is committed to working with lawmakers — regardless of party — to advance common sense reforms that help people improve their lives. At the same time, we will continue to hold members who voted against this crucial reform accountable,” Philips said.
The move by the Kochs is surprising to people who think of them as partisan, because Washington D.C. seems to be governed solely by partisan politicians. But they are more issues-oriented than partisan, and their support for Democrats is sure to shock some people, although it may provide an opportunity for moderates like Heitkamp to stay in office with Koch support.
The midterms elections are just five months away and it will be interesting to see if the Kochs make similar moves in other states and how they will affect the balance of power in Congress.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.