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Report: The Koch brothers want Scott Walker to be president

David Koch, in 2011.
David Koch, in 2011.
Chip Somodevilla / Getty

  1. On Monday, industrialist David Koch told a group of donors that he and his brother Charles want Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) to be the GOP's presidential nominee, Nick Confessore of the New York Times reports.
  2. However, David Koch also said that while he and his brother might personally donate to Walker, they'll support whoever the GOP nominee turns out to be, and "suggested" that their political network will not intervene in the primaries, Confessore writes.
  3. But in a statement later Monday night, Koch said he is "not endorsing or supporting any candidate for President at this point" — though he said that Walker is "terrific."

The Kochs may keep their network neutral

At first glance, Koch backing for one candidate would appear to be a serious blow to the others. Though it's not yet clear how much money they'd actually spend on any one candidate's behalf, obviously the support of the Kochs, the fourth- and fifth-richest people in the US, is something any GOP candidate would love to have.

But according to Confessore, David Koch also "suggested" that the brothers' political network — an unprecedented outside money operation that reportedly plans to raise $889 million before the 2016 election — would not intervene in the primaries on Walker's behalf.

Why not? Well, it's important to remember that the Kochs' political operation isn't funded entirely by the brothers, but rather raises hundreds of millions from other donors, too. And some of those donors have already expressed preferences for other 2016 hopefuls. Hedge fund magnate Robert Mercer, for instance, is reportedly backing Ted Cruz, while wealthy donor Foster Friess hopes to boost Rick Santorum again.

If the brothers put their political network's support behind one candidate in the primaries, they'd alienate donors who have other favorites. By keeping the network neutral, they've instead made clear that the hundreds of millions of dollars the network is raising will be used on the general election, to defeat Democrats — not on an intra-GOP civil war. So the Kochs would be making their preferences clear, but not throwing their weight around as much as they could be.

This post has been updated with new developments.