Koch network throws weight behind Youngkin in Virginia

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Americans for Prosperity announced a 'six-figure' ad campaign for the Virginia governor's race on Thursday.

On Thursday, the Virginia arm of the Koch-funded group Americans for Prosperity endorsed Republican candidate for governor Glenn Youngkin.

The group also announced the launch of a "six-figure" digital advertising campaign supporting Youngkin's campaign.

"As a businessman and entrepreneur, Youngkin understands the pressure Virginian families feel as budgets tighten, costs increase, and success gets harder to find," J.C. Hernandez, Americans for Prosperity-Virginia's state director, told The Hill.

"It doesn't have to be this way. Glenn Youngkin knows the policies it takes to make life more affordable and expand opportunity to all Virginians. We're ready to work day and night through the Election to help him make that vision a reality."

Americans for Prosperity was founded by Charles and David Koch, brothers who used their multi-billion-dollar fortune — in part inherited from their father, Fred Koch — to support conservative academics, politicians, and activists.

After President Barack Obama was elected in 2008, Americans for Prosperity became a key funder of the small-government Tea Party movement and its associated Republican candidates.

David Koch died in 2019, leaving Charles Koch as the major living benefactor of the group.

In 2020, Charles Koch told the Wall Street Journal he regretted his past partisanship and said he wanted to "unite a diversity of people behind a common goal."

In a book published that year, "Believe in People: Bottom-Up Solutions for a Top-Down World," Koch wrote that he'd come to believe his partisan philanthropy had polarized Americans.

"Boy, did we screw up," he wrote. "What a mess!"

But one year later, Koch appears to be doubling back on his regrets and doubling down on funding partisan right-wing causes and candidates.

Outside money is flooding into the 2020 Virginia gubernatorial race, in which Youngkin and former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe are in a virtual dead heat in the polls. Youngkin himself has loaned $16.5 million of his own money to his campaign since January.

Youngkin's proposed policies — what are known of them thus far — would do little to make "life more affordable" for most Virginians.

At a Sept. 28 debate, Youngkin claimed his plan to abolish the state's 2.5% grocery tax would save Virginia families $1,500 a year. In reality, abolishing the sales tax would only save the average family about $120 and would cost the state $500 million in revenue each year.

Youngkin seems to agree with the Koch agenda on ending Medicaid expansion. Earlier this year, Youngkin called Virginia's bipartisan Medicaid expansion law, which has allowed more than half a million Virginians to gain health care since 2019, a "very sad thing."

In September, Youngkin was caught on a hidden camera saying that if elected, he would be able to repeal Virginia's vaccine, masking, and testing mandates on "day one." A majority of Virginians (71%) support the state's mask mandate for K-12 schools, according to a recent poll from Virginia Commonwealth University.

The Koch network's new ad campaign comes as McAuliffe has seen his polling advantage shrink after boasting a seven-point polling lead over Youngkin at the start of September.

Polling by Emerson College and Nexstar Media released Wednesday found the two candidates in a statistical tie, with McAuliffe leading Youngkin by one point among likely voters.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.