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Democrats have made denouncing the Koch brothers and their money a fetish. Back in 2010, for instance, Barack Obama called them out by name when he chided campaign finance laws: “They don’t have to say who, exactly, Americans for Prosperity are.” It’s true that entities started and mostly funded by the Koch brothers are using just a small part of the pair’s astounding $80 billion fortune to finance a fusillade of TV and Internet ads aimed at “big government.”
Their network of think tanks, foundations and the like is all the more formidable since the Citizens United Supreme Court decision allowing more money into elections. (Is it a shock that the eponymous conservative group, Citizens United, co-hosted New Hampshire’s Freedom Summit?)
But in recent weeks, with the midterm elections little more than six months away, Democrats have gone from grumbling about the Kochs to gunning for them. Their worry is that Koch-funded entities, like the AFP, have begun to spend eye-popping sums. In North Carolina, for instance, where freshman senator Kay Hagan is fighting to retain her seat, the AFP has already spent over $6 million in ads against her.
With the Democrats possibly losing control of the Senate, Harry Reid, their leader in that chamber, has gone after the Kochs with what seems like unprecedented language against private citizens. The Nevadan has called the Kochs “un-American” for “trying to buy America” and mentioned them over 100 times on the Senate floor.
Reid has said that his wife came up with a tagline: that the Senate Republicans are “addicted to Koch.” (That’s some pillow talk.) Using the Senate floor to denounce the Kochs “is a desperation move of somebody who’s about to potentially lose their job,” says Steve Lombardo, the new chief communications and marketing officer at Koch Industries, recently recruited from PR giant Burson-Marsteller.
A classy t-shirt from yesterday’s Tea Party rally on Capitol Hill.
“The Tea Party movement is dead. It’s gone,” says Chris Littleton, the cofounder of the Ohio Liberty Council, a statewide coalition of Tea Party groups in Ohio. “I think largely the Tea Party is irrelevant in the primaries. They aren’t passionate about any of the candidates, and if they are passionate, they’re for Ron Paul.”
Littleton is one of the many who have endorsed the Texas congressman; he blames the other GOP candidates for the lackluster energy they have generated in the grassroots that hosted a revolution two years ago.
“Not Romney” is the most popular candidate among his fellow activists, Littleton says, though no one can agree who “Not Romney” is. Without an agreement on that score, the real Romney has coasted to easy victories in New Hampshire, Florida, and Nevada, even winning a clean 50 percent of the Tea Party vote in Nevada on Saturday night while the other 50 percent split themselves among Paul, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum.
Mark Meckler, founder of the Tea Party Patriots, the nation’s largest Tea Party coalition, also says the Tea Party isn’t playing a role in picking the nominee. But that is by choice, not by accident, he says.
Oh hey! One of your tumblr's will be co-hosting (ok, moderating) a live chat during tonight’s GOP CNN/Tea Party Express presidential debate. We start at 8pm EST. Howard Kurtz & Lloyd Grove will be the real co-hosts, chatting with readers about Perry, Romney, Paul, Santorum, Cain, Huntsman, Gingrich, and Bachmann—who is probably facing an uphill, must-win scenario going into tonight’s debate. Hope you can join us for the action. These are usually pretty fun.
Loving this design. Also the story, by Sharon Begley, on the psychology of an angry electorate.
They say they’re mad as hell, though some pundits see them as simply mad. Ten Tea Party movers and shakers you should know about.
Andrew Romano and Dan Stone, on the Tea Party’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Night