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Influential Koch network stops spending for Nikki Haley to focus on Senate and House races

By Ebony Davis and Alison Main, CNN

(CNN) — The influential network associated with billionaire Charles Koch will no longer throw its money behind former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley in the Republican presidential primary and will instead focus on key Senate and House races, the group announced in an email to staff obtained by CNN.

“With the South Carolina presidential primary this weekend and the Senate engagement really heating up, it’s time to take stock of where we are and – as we always do – make sure we’re optimizing our resources for maximum impact towards our goals,” Americans for Prosperity President and CEO Emily Seidel wrote.

Americans for Prosperity Action’s endorsement in November was a significant boost for Haley as she sought to become the leading alternative to former President Donald Trump in the GOP primary. The conservative group, which pledged to back a single contender in the GOP presidential primary for the first time in its history, deployed its vast resources and standing army of activists on behalf of the former United Nations ambassador. But while the race has come down to Haley and Trump, the former president remains the dominant front-runner after a strong victory in Haley’s home state on Saturday.

Seidel emphasized that AFP Action is still standing with Haley, even if it’s no longer spending to boost her campaign, writing that she “has shown us again and again that we made the right decision in supporting her candidacy and she continues to have our strong endorsement.”

“She has made it clear that she will continue to fight and we wholeheartedly support her in this effort. But given the challenges in the primary states ahead, we don’t believe any outside group can make a material difference to widen her path to victory,” she added.

Haley’s campaign spokesperson, Olivia Perez-Cubas, thanked AFP for its support, and emphasized the campaign has “plenty of fuel to keep going,” as Haley vows to stay in the race for the White House.

“AFP is a great organization and ally in the fight for freedom and conservative government. We thank them for their tremendous help in this race. Our fight continues, and with more than $1 million coming in from grassroots conservatives in just the last 24 hours, we have plenty of fuel to keep going. We have a country to save,” Perez-Cubas said in a statement to CNN.

The network’s decision was first reported by Politico.

Network officials had previously stressed that the Senate, in particular, would be a top priority for its investments, arguing that flipping the chamber represented the best chance of guarding against full Democratic control in Washington.

In backing Haley last year, the group made it clear it would bypass Trump in its quest to find what Seidel called a president “who represents a new chapter.”

“The last 3 election cycles have painted a very clear picture of what we can expect from voters who consistently rejected Donald Trump and his impact on the Republican party brand,” Seidel warned in her Sunday email, adding, “We should expect this to increase further as the criminal trials progress.”

CNN’s Fredreka Schouten contributed to this report.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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