November 28, 2023 2 min read

Nikki Haley during a campaign event in Iowa, holding a microphone.

In a strategic move that could reshape the dynamics of the Republican presidential primary race, the influential political network founded by the Koch brothers has officially endorsed Nikki Haley. This endorsement by Americans for Prosperity Action aims to provide Haley with substantial organizational support and financial backing as she contends with Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida for the second spot in the crucial Iowa primary.

The endorsement was revealed through a memo released on Tuesday, emphasizing the network's commitment to bolstering Haley's campaign in the final seven weeks leading up to the first nominating contest. Despite former President Donald J. Trump maintaining his dominance as the front-runner, Haley has been steadily climbing in polls, while DeSantis has experienced a decline.

The memo, drafted by Emily Seidel, a senior adviser to Americans for Prosperity Action, contrasts Haley's candidacy with recent elections marked by the negative baggage of Trump. Seidel contends that Haley, at the forefront, could elevate candidates across the board, attracting key independent and moderate voters that Trump may struggle to win over.

The memo also underscores the polarized state of the nation, stating that the current moment requires a tested leader with governing judgment and policy experience to steer the country away from division. According to Seidel, Nikki Haley embodies that leadership.

Backing up their endorsement, the Koch network provided polling data highlighting a shift in support towards Haley, emphasizing her appeal as a tested leader with broad voter appeal.

While Haley has garnered support from donors and opinion-makers who view her as a viable alternative to Trump, she faces organizational challenges compared to DeSantis. The super PAC affiliated with DeSantis has been actively building organizational strength throughout the year.

The Koch network's endorsement brings a significant boost to Haley's campaign, providing access to a direct-mail operation, field workers for door-knocking efforts, and a team making phone calls to potential voters in Iowa and beyond. The network's substantial financial resources also open avenues for television advertisements.

Americans for Prosperity Action's endorsement aligns with their history of opposing Trump's influence within the Republican Party. The network, having spent over $9 million on anti-Trump initiatives this year, is well-financed, having raised more than $70 million for political races as of the summer.

The endorsement not only strengthens Haley's organizational capabilities but also adds momentum to her campaign in the critical weeks leading up to the primaries. The move underscores the Koch network's commitment to shaping the future direction of the Republican Party, emphasizing the need for a leader who represents a new chapter in 2025.

In response to the endorsement, DeSantis's campaign attempted to downplay its significance, suggesting that every dollar spent on Haley's candidacy should be considered an in-kind contribution to the Trump campaign. The statement reaffirms DeSantis's track record of challenging the establishment within the party.

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