Koch group thanks Democratic senator facing tough reelection

Americans for Prosperity, a Koch brothers-backed political advocacy group, is running a digital ad thanking a vulnerable Democratic senator for her support of bank deregulation legislation ahead of the midterm elections.

The ad, which launched Friday, thanks North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who is fighting to hold onto her seat in a state that Trump carried by 36 points in 2016, for cosponsoring a rollback of some Dodd-Frank Act regulations.

“Thank you, Sen. Heitkamp for giving main street relief,” the ad reads. The ad campaign was previously reported by CNBC.

“This was a bipartisan effort made possible by lawmakers like Heidi Heitkamp who put politics aside to work together,” Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, said in a statement. “While we don’t agree with Sen. Heitkamp on everything, particularly her vote against tax relief, we commend her for taking a stand against the leaders of her party to do the right thing.”

Though the ad is not an endorsement of Heitkamp in the upcoming midterm election, it’s an usual move for billionaires David and Charles Koch, whose influential network typically backs Republicans that align with their libertarian interests.

Phillips said the group is “committed to working with lawmakers — regardless of party,” and hopes to “find common ground and work with Sen. Heitkamp on other issues moving forward including making tax relief permanent.”

“Heidi got results for rural North Dakota families and businesses who depend on relationship lending because she is and has always been focused on putting partisan politics aside to deliver for North Dakotans — and that’s where her focus will remain,” Julia Krieger, Heitkamp’s campaign communications director, said in a statement.

Americans for Prosperity also thanked three other Democrats — Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia, Doug Jones of Alabama, and Michael Bennet of Colorado — who cosponsored the bill, which President Donald Trump signed in May.

The new ad comes after Americans for Prosperity ran a $450,000 TV and digital ad in March attacking Heitkamp for voting against the GOP tax reform bill. The Koch network is investing nearly $400 million in the midterms.

The Democratic incumbent, who is one of 10 Senate Democrats seeking reelection this year in states Trump carried in 2016, will likely face Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer, who was recruited by the White House and Republicans, in November.

Both Cramer and Heitkamp were at the banking bill signing ceremony at the White House, though Heitkamp was the lone Democrat in the room. Trump even praised Heitkamp as a “good woman” during an event in North Dakota last September on the GOP tax plan, to which Heitkamp flew with Trump on Air Force One.