Koch network to support another Republican, not Donald Trump, in 2024 presidential primary

The massive political machine built by billionaire Charles Koch is slated to back a host of conservative Republican candidates who will reenter the presidential field in 2024 — with a clear intent of blocking former president Donald Trump from attaining the GOP nomination.

A major PAC tied to Mr Koch, Americans for Prosperity Action, released a memo this weekend indicating the group’s intention to support a candidate that can win in the next election cycle -- a clear reference to Mr Trump and the withering losses that Trump-backed candidates like Kari Lake, Doug Mastriano, Dr Mehmet Oz, and Blake Masters suffered in the 2022 cycle.

“To write a new chapter for our county, we need to turn the page on the past,” wrote CEO Emily Seidel in the memo, first obtained by CNN. “So the best thing for the country would be to have a president in 2025 who represents a new chapter.”

AFP Action “is prepared to support a candidate in the Republican presidential primary who can lead our country forward, and who can win,” she added in her clearest jab at the former president in the statement.

It’s hardly a surprise, given that the Koch network stayed away from aligning itself too closely with Donald Trump and Trumpism during 2016 and 2020, and largely constrained its efforts to the House, Senate and statewide elections. One of their most notable efforts came just last year, when the group helped Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mace beat back a primary challenger endorsed by the former president.

If anything, the news shows the frustration and the growing desperation among the Republican Party’s establishment, who reluctantly bent the knee to Donald Trump after the 2016 primary ended and are now eager to dump him and his brand after three consecutive lackluster election cycles.

There have already been signs that the GOP’s moneyed elite are seeking to rally behind whomever emerges as the credible anti-Trump alternative in 2024. That could be Florida’s Ron DeSantis, currently the only Republican besides Mr Trump polling at double digits in a hypothetical primary matchup, or someone else.

Mr DeSantis has not indicated yet that he plans to run. Other conservatives, including several former Trump administration notables, are not waiting to jump in however, and appear to be soft launching their presidential bids: Figures including Mike Pence, Nikki Haley, and Mike Pompeo.

Mr Trump could even potentially face a longshot challenge for the 2024 nomination from Kari Lake, the failed Republican gubernatorial candidate from Arizona. Ms Lake has been maintaining a national profile among the far right since her loss and is headed to a GOP event in Iowa, site of the GOP’s first contest during the primary season.

The former president launched his third campaign for the presidency late last year after watching his chosen allies fail to secure the Senate for his party in the 2022 midterms. Polls show that he remains favoured to win the nomination, though some head-to-head surveys have shown Mr DeSantis pulling ahead.