Yesterday the Koch brothers network of political organizations made national headlines when they decided to announce that the wouldn’t be supporting Congressman Kevin Cramer’s bid to unseat Democratic Senate incumbent Heidi Heitkamp. Tim Phillips, head of the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity group, even went so far as to call Cramer an “adversary.”
I wondered yesterday if this news would actually make much of a difference in the Senate race. Democrats have been painting the Koch brothers as right-wing boogyemen – the marionettes for alleged Republican puppets like Cramer – and this news seems to undermine that narrative. Besides, are the sort of voters who put their stock in what the Koch brothers think really going to switch allegiance to a Democrat like Heidi Heitkamp?
That seems unlikely.
In fact, according to Cramer himself, this may even help him. “Politically it’s been very good for me,” he said of the Koch brothers announcement yesterday. He went on to say that his online fundraising started “shooting off like a machine gun” when the Koch news broke.
Cramer thinks voters may be “fed up with the role of national groups.” He also said that what the Koch-aligned groups wanted from him to get their support wasn’t something he was willing to give.
“They came to my office and asked me to oppose the farm bill,” he told me.
“I respect them and I respect their position but it’s not my position and it’s not North Dakota’s. I’ll stick with North Dakota,” he added.
Before my interview with Cramer I had on Mike Fedorchak who is the North Dakota director for Americans for Prosperity. He said the “possibility is still open” that his group could back Cramer, but conceded that the endorsement probably doesn’t mean much one way or another in the race.
“Anyone who knows Kevin Cramer knows he’s his own man,” Fedorchak told me. “He’s capable of winning this race no matter who helps him.”
“Clearly Kevin Cramer is aligned [with the Koch network] on many more issues” than Heitkamp, Fedorchak added.
Here’s the full audio of today’s show. If you can’t listen live, get the podcast.