David Koch's Americans for Prosperity Loses an Election in Iowa

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 6 2013 11:09 AM

David Koch's Americans for Prosperity Loses an Election in Iowa

A fun, A1 pre-election New York Times story followed David Koch's Americans for Prosperity as it dispatched volunteers (and psyched up local organizers) to win small victories that the national media wasn't paying attention to. When the ballots were counted, AFP notched up at least one win. It helped defeat a tax hike (from 1.5 to 2.5 percent) in Gahanna, Ohio. But in Coralville, Iowa, the focus of the Times piece, Americans for Prosperity utterly failed to flip the municipal elections. Democrats held on to the mayor's office and swept the City Council races.

Here's what happens when the New York Times makes your election a case study in Koch power.

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Shortly after ballots were counted Tuesday, Lundell said he received a surprise phone call from Vice President Joe Biden.
“He indicated that he was very proud of our city, that we took on the Koch brothers and successfully beat them buy such a huge margin,” Lundell said. “That was another aspect of this election that was unanticipated, that after the polls closed that I’d be speaking to the vice president of the United States."

AFP is probably the most business-friendly of the "Tea Party" groups, a sprawling organization with a state chapters structure that's good at beating ballot measures or electing deregulators. But last night, during a time of turmoil for "Obamacare" and horrible poll numbers for the president, did not go well for the few conservative hardliners who stuck their necks out.

- In Troy, Mich., a Tea Party mayor who'd been recalled earlier in 2013 ran for City Council and lost.

- A ballot measure in 11 Colorado counties, which would have started them on the (likely blocked) path to secession, was set to fail in six of them, ending the tantrum.

- Most famously (and it wasn't even that famous!), the Republican primary for Alabama's open 1st Congressional District was won by former state Sen. Bradley Byrne, a perfectly right-wing former Democrat, over the woefully unqualified but Mark Levin/Roy Moore-endorsed Dean Young.

Oh, there were conservative wins! Colorado voters just beat the paint off a school funding measure that was backed and advertised by the likes of Bill Gates. But the setbacks, in the sort of election year that's usually best for traditional Republican turnout, were real.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.