By Mike Allen
4/21/15 – 7:06 AM EDT
Charles and David Koch are considering throwing their massive wealth and sophisticated organization into the Republican presidential primary for the first time, a potentially game-changing boost that could make even a second-tier candidate instantly viable.
In another surprise, a top Koch aide revealed to POLITICO that Jeb Bush will be given a chance to audition for the brothers’ support, despite initial skepticism about him at the top of the Kochs’ growing political behemoth.
Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Ted Cruz debated at the Koch network’s winter seminar in January, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker made a separate appearance. Those were the candidates who appeared to have a chance at the Koch blessing, and attendees said Rubio seemed to win that round.
But those four — plus Jeb – will be invited to the Kochs’ summer conference, the aide said. Bush is getting a second look because so many Koch supporters think he looks like a winner. Other candidates, perhaps Rick Perry or Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, may also get invitations.
The New York Times’ Nick Confessore reported Monday afternoon that David Koch had indicated the brothers favor Walker, citing remarks he made to donors who had just heard from the Wisconsin governor. The article runs on page A13 of the print edition: “G.O.P. Donors Signal a Favorite: Wisconsin Governor.”
This prompted an online frenzy, including the HuffPost banner, “KOCHS FIND THEIR MAN.”
Koch insiders dismissed that conclusion, saying the brothers have made similar comments about several of the candidates, and are far from settling on a favorite. “It’s really early, and a lot is going to happen,” the aide said. “We wouldn’t want to take options off the table by getting behind one of them now.”
David Koch said in a statement to POLITICO’s Ken Vogel: “While I think Gov. Walker is terrific … I am not endorsing or supporting any candidate for President at this point.”
To read entire column, click here.