There are conflicting reports on whether one of the Koch brothers has decided to endorse a candidate…NOT named Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Via The Daily Caller:
Billionaire businessman and philanthropist David Koch has pledged “tens of millions of dollars” to help bankroll the campaign of Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, according to a source within Johnson’s campaign.
Koch’s money will be made available should Johnson, a former two-term Republican governor of New Mexico, secure his second consecutive Libertarian Party presidential nomination, the source said…
While David Koch, and his brother Charles, are frequently associated with Republican and conservative causes, David was the Libertarian Party’s vice-presidential candidate in 1980. He also sits on the board of the Cato Institute, the nation’s most prominent libertarian-oriented think tank.
Both sides are dismissing the story. Via CBS News:
Johnson told CBS News when asked about the report, which first appeared on The Daily Caller, a conservative news site. “None whatsoever.”
“You just got to laugh,” Johnson added, chuckling.
A spokesman for the Kochs was likewise dismissive.
“Reports that we are supporting or considering supporting any third party presidential candidate are false,” Philip Ellender told CBS News.
If the story isn’t true (The DC is sticking by it) it’s disappointing because it could have been a real opportunity for the Libertarian Party to make inroads in the election. Neither presumptive nominee is likable except outside their own circle of fans and some world leaders. The Kochs are definitely more libertarian than conservative, but have been trying to work through the GOP because of its greater organization. If David Koch does decide to go back to the Libertarian Party it shows he really thinks Donald Trump might doom the GOP in November.
Will it work? No one knows, because third parties don’t normally end up winning. But it doesn’t mean this isn’t a battle worth fighting. The 2016 election has been one for the ages at just now splintered the electorate is. You have Donald Trump courting Bernie Sanders supporters, while several neoconservatives are vowing to vote for Hillary Clinton. Other conservatives and Republicans are making no endorsement of a candidate. This could end up being “the libertarian moment” or at least a chance for no candidate to win the electoral votes needed to secure the White House, but it depends on what Koch goes for.
Gary Johnson’s team up with Bill Weld already gives the Libertarian Party a pretty solid ticket (should they win the nomination). If Koch gives seven figures to the Johnson/Weld ticket can be a big boost. We’ll just have to see if any other major donations roll in and if donors who tend to give to conservatives decide to help out Johnson.
Needless to say, I like this move a lot and am hopeful it means we’ll see “Vote for Johnson” ads on TV, radio, and online. One of the biggest issues for libertarians (and other third parties) is the inability to get air time because of how expensive those ads can be. Koch’s money towards Johnson will help, and could also help bring poll numbers up. This could keep Johnson on the debate stage in the fall if poll numbers stay above 10%. That means there could actually be a true alternative to the “Big Two” parties.
There’s a lot of “ifs” here, (not including whether Koch is actually going to give cash). For all we know, Johnson’s star will start plummeting faster than Asteroid M. If Koch does put money into Johnson’s campaign he could decide to pull it out if Johnsom doesn’t make a good impression in the debates (given his performance in the first Libertarian one on Fox Business it’s always possible). Libertarians could throw people for a loop and pick Austin Petersen or John McAfee as their nominee on Memorial Day. Hillary Clinton could get indicted, forcing Democrats to scramble and the Republicans could end up having a brokered convention. There’s a lot of variables, but it certainly be a good thing for libertarians if Johnson gets Koch cash.