Politico reports that Senate Democrats are plotting, once again, to make attacks on Charles and David Koch a centerpiece of their 2016 campaign:
A coalition of deep-pocketed liberal groups ― including a pair of super PACs backing Hillary Clinton ― has been meeting quietly for months, examining the 2016 map and plotting attacks against the powerful Koch brothers’ network.
At midday Thursday, the architect of that effort, Clinton antagonist-turned-enforcer David Brock, is scheduled to present his findings ― complete with the back-up polling and research ― to the Senate Democratic Caucus, sources tell POLITICO. …
Brock’s argument, according to his recently released book and interviews with his allies, is that spotlighting the massive political spending of the conservative groups backed by the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch is a “critical component” of boosting Democratic candidates, including Clinton, in 2016.
There is, of course, a fly in this ointment. The Democrats tried the anti-Koch strategy in 2014 and lost nine seats. As Politico delicately puts it, “the strategy produced little tangible benefit for Democrats in the 2014 election.” Nevertheless, “several Democratic Senators in interviews this week expressed support for recommitting to the attacks.”
The leading such senator is Harry Reid, who is retiring from the Senate next year but seems to have a personal vendetta against the Kochs. His obsessive attacks on them from the Senate floor during the 2014 campaign came across, at times, as almost demented. Still, he wants to give the strategy another go.
Cooler heads, like Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, dissent. She says:
How could you say it’s effective? Look at the results.
It was never hard to predict that the Democrats’ attacks on Charles and David Koch would fail to move voters. In the first place, campaign finance consistently places last on the list of voters’ concerns (just behind global warming). Second, most people have figured out that large campaign contributions come from wealthy people. The Republicans have their wealthy supporters, and so do the Democrats. So what is the point of singling out a couple of rich people on one side, when the other side has their own rich donors? And, finally, attacking private citizens by name for exercising their First Amendment rights strikes many voters as unseemly, or worse.
Still, when has failure ever deterred a liberal? Next time things will be different! And the Dems no doubt will do better in 2016 than in 2014, but that is because they are playing in a much more favorable landscape, with many Republican seats at risk, not because their attacks on the Kochs will get much traction.