This combination of 2013 and 2012 file photos shows brothers David, left, and Charles Koch. In July 2018, an estimated 500 Koch donors _ each having committed at least $100,000 annually _ gathered in the mountains of Colorado for an invitation-only “seminar” that featured a handful of elected officials and high-profile influencers. The conservative network remains one of the nation’s most influential political forces. (Phelan M. Ebenhack, Bo Rader/The Wichita Eagle via AP)

Kochs won't help top GOP Senate candidate in key state

July 30, 2018 - 2:05 pm

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — The conservative Koch network is refusing to help the Republican Party win North Dakota's high-profile Senate contest after determining the GOP challenger in the race is no better than the Democrat.

Koch leaders said the strategy could change in the coming weeks. For now, they don't plan to devote any resources to help take down North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp.

The announcement, released Monday, sends a strong message to Republican officials nationwide that there may be real political consequences for those unwilling to oppose the spending explosion and protectionist trade policies embraced by the Trump White House in recent weeks.

The decision also marks a new chapter in the strained relationship between the Trump administration and the powerful conservative network, which refused to endorse Donald Trump's presidential campaign.