Don’t Forget Pence

Towards the end of a Politico piece by Mike Allen and Kenneth Vogel on the Koch Brothers plans, there is this passage that really got my attention:

In 2012, the newly created Freedom Partners — the umbrella group for the Kochs’ political operation — raised and spent roughly $250 million. Headed by Marc Short, a former top staffer in the House and Senate, Freedom Partners dispenses funds and expertise to myriad affiliate groups in the network. This year, it began wading into political and policy fights on its own — spinning off a super PAC that spent at least $24 million boosting Republican Senate candidates.

Heading into 2016, the Koch network — under the auspices of Freedom Partners — has in many ways surpassed the reach and resources of the RNC. And, unlike the party, it isn’t bound by rules requiring it to maintain neutrality in primaries. Though the network has yet to engage in primaries, that could be the next logical step in its progression from apolitical think tank consortium to aggressive privatized political machine….

A key adviser to one of the top GOP presidential prospects said: “If I could have Karl Rove or Marc Short to run a presidential campaign today, I’d take Marc Short. He understands all the technical tools available to a modern campaign and how to apply them to the nominating process. He also has a deep understanding of the political dynamics of the GOP base vote.”

Short’s connection to another potential GOP presidential candidate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, is among the biggest reasons that the Kochs are considering whether going all-in on a presidential campaign would be a good investment. Short was chief of staff to the House Republican Conference when then-Rep. Pence was the chairman, and Short remains a close adviser to Pence.

It’s easy in listing all the “mentioned” presidential possibilities for 2016 to forget about Pence. who chaired the House conservative ideological commissariat, the Republican Study Committee, before being elected Governor of Indiana, a very helpful credential going into 2016. If the chief tactician in the Koch network is on board with Team Pence, I doubt even Scott Walker could outflank him in those circles.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.