Under normal political circumstances, it’s quite unusual to see a powerful political leader go out of his or her way to blast prominent political donors. But these aren’t exactly normal political circumstances, and for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Charles and David Koch are more than just politically engaged contributors.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took to the floor on Tuesday to denounce the spending – now up to $14.5 million – by Charles and David Koch on Senate races, the latest attempt by Democrats to raise the profile of the free-spending conservative brothers in advance of the November election.
Reid has never been shy, but the Nevada Democrat was especially aggressive during his floor remarks yesterday. “What is un-American is when shadowy billionaires pour unlimited money into our democracy to rig the system to benefit themselves and the wealthiest one percent,” he said of the Koch brothers,
The majority leader added, “The Koch brothers and other moneyed interests are influencing the politics in a way not seen for generations. Republican senators have come to the floor to defend the Koch brothers’ attempt to buy our democracy. Once again, Republicans are all in to protect their billionaire friends. Not only have Senate Republicans come to the floor to defend the Koch brothers personally, they have again and again defended the Koch brothers’ radical agenda – and it is radical, at least from the middle-class perspective.”
Congressional Republicans, Reid concluded, are “addicted to Koch.”
As if to prove the point, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) quickly followed Reid’s remarks with a hearty defense of the Koch brothers, reinforcing the impression that the Kochs have become the GOP’s key institutional ally.
What’s driving the sudden Democratic offensive?
Kate Nocera had a good report on this.
Despite opening himself up to that criticism, few in the Democratic campaign world see a downside in Reid painting the Kochs as electoral villains.Democrats involved in House and Senate races told BuzzFeed that internal polling shows high disapproval for the Koch name among the Democratic base and independent voters – even as AFP’s brutal anti-Obamacare ads blitz vulnerable candidates.
Jim Manley, a former Reid aide and Democratic strategist, told Nocera, “There’s no downside to any elected official in this country attacking the Koch brothers. None, zero, zip. You always need a foil, and it’s taken a while for Democrats to get to this, but they are as good as any a foil given their efforts to buy elections left and right in this country.”
As a strategic matter, this makes sense. On the one hand, Reid and other Democrats are trying to motivate the party’s base, reminding them there are some conservative billionaires out there trying to sway elections. On the other ahnd, Democrats also likely want to help shape public attitudes in general – the next time you see a misleading attack ad on TV, the argument goes, remember to take it with a grain of salt because it may have been financed by the Koch brothers.
In other words, expect this to be a prominent arrow in the Dems’ quiver for the next several months.