This morning CNBC reported that Americans for Prosperity (AFP) – a conservative nonprofit advocacy group funded by the billionaire Koch brothers – has decided to run a digital ad campaign to thank Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp for her support and co-sponsoring of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protect Act. As explained by CNBC, the bill:
“… rolls back Dodd-Frank regulations mainly on community banks, or those with less than $100 billion in assets. It recently passed in Congress with bipartisan support.”
I must admit that when the article popped up on my phone this morning, I did a double take at the headline. After all, it was just a couple months ago that AFP ran an ad criticizing Heitkamp for her vote on the Republican tax reform bill. You can see that one here:
But in addition to this, AFP’s own website says, in part, that its mission:
“… exists to recruit, educate, and mobilize citizens in support of the policies and goals of a free society at the local, state, and federal level, helping every American live their dream – especially the least fortunate.
“Americans for Prosperity has a vision for an America where truly free markets allow for free and prosperous people.”
Given Senator Heitkamp’s overall political record, I don’t believe that she fits within AFP’s mission. Which makes their decision to place thank you ads, for a single vote, all the more questionable.
In addition to this, AFP and the Koch brothers are most certainly aware that Heitkamp is currently in a battle to keep her coveted Senate seat versus Republican opponent, Congressman Kevin Cramer. As it stands now, the Republican majority is a slim two seats. And less than a month ago, Senator Heitkamp was listed by Roll Call as #4 on a list of The 10 Most Vulnerable Senators in 2018.
One political friend suggested to me that maybe AFP is just playing political games by running the ad, in hopes of alienating Heitkamp’s base— who pretty much view the Koch brothers as being on same level as Lucifer. And within minutes of him telling me that, I actually saw a social media post from a Democrat on the subject, saying they were done with the Democratic Senator because of the AFP ad. So, maybe there’s something to the idea. But I’m guessing such losses will be marginal for Heitkamp. Besides, who else would her voters turn to?
Aside from this, how might such an ad benefit Senator Heitkamp with middle of the road voters? Could her gains be greater than the losses?
When it comes to North Dakota’s only Democrat in Washington, I’d say these aren’t times for a conservative advocacy group to be placing ad buys, as a thank you, for a favorable vote on a single issue. I get it if they’re grateful for Heitkamp’s support. But perhaps a thank you card would be more appropriate.