Charles G. and David H. Koch, frequent political donors, have a favorite in the race for the 2016 Republican nomination: Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin.
On Monday, at a fundraising event in Manhattan for the New York State Republican Party, David Koch told donors that he and his brother, who oversee one of the biggest private political organizations in the country, believed that Walker was the Republican Party’s best hope for recapturing the White House.
“We will support whoever the candidate is,” said Koch, according to two people who attended the event. “But it should be Scott Walker.”
The remark – made before dozens of top New York donors who had gathered to hear Walker speak at the Union League Club – could effectively end one of the more closely watched contests in the “invisible primary,” a period where candidates crisscross the country seeking not the support of voters but the blessing of donors and fundraisers.
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Most of the leading Republican candidates have aggressively courted the Kochs, who manage a network of political nonprofits, super PACs and hundreds of like-minded donors, all of which are planning to spend almost $900 million over the next two years advancing conservative candidates and policies.
But while the Kochs are influential among their peers, it is unclear whether they will favor Walker with more than goodwill.
In his remarks, made after Walker had addressed the group, Koch suggested that the organizations they oversee – which include Americans for Prosperity, a grassroots organization, and Freedom Partners, a donor trade group with an affiliated super PAC – would not intervene in the Republican primaries on behalf of a single candidate.
But according to the two attendees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely describe the remarks, Koch indicated the Kochs might personally offer financial support to Walker.