Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description

FreedomWorks Wants to Rebrand Itself

FreedomWorks is a libertarian-oriented group founded and funded by the Koch brothers that was associated with the tea party movement of 2010. It has come to realize that there isn't much of a market for what it is selling. Therefore, it is trying to rebrand itself from a fire-breathing right-wing outfit to a more moderate one while still pursuing libertarian goals. Politico got ahold of a PowerPoint presentation used to pitch to donors, lawmakers, and selected others. FreedomWorks believes that the policy stances in the PowerPoint will resonate with independent voters. It covers topics like "climate realism" and "abortion options," things that were previously taboo.

In a letter to donors and staff, the organization's president, Adam Brandon, said that conservatives no longer cared about limited government, so flogging it was barking up the wrong tree. He also called for modesty on social policy (= calling for a ban on all abortions is not a winner).

FreedomWorks did some survey research and discovered that independent suburban voters supported "tolerance and choice." That is not what they have been selling so far. The survey showed that gay marriage is a settled issue and abortion should be legal, safe, and rare. It also showed that the voters were rejecting the Democrats' message but also the Republicans' message. FreedomWorks needs to adapt accordingly.

What some staffers believe is that with 50% of the Koch brothers dead and the remaining 50% being less interested in them, if they want to continue to exist and keep their jobs, they need to change and support things that voters and especially donors want. The old ways are not working anymore. Brandon's idea was to position FreedomWorks just to the right of No Labels, which is essentially Republican-lite and was likely founded as a way to seduce moderate Democrats to refrain from voting for Joe Biden. Brandon wants to be on their right flank, but with a bit less of the culture-war stuff.

The group will support candidates who agree to its pledge, which is essentially socially tolerant and fiscally responsible. In other words, married gay people who want to cut rich people's taxes are definitely welcome. It is a niche where overcrowding hasn't been a historical problem.

The real impetus for the rebranding is that corporate donations fell to zero. FreedomWorks had to fire 40% of its staff because the money was gone. It was either change or die. So Brandon looked around for a niche that seemed to be empty and is going to give it a shot. But if Trump wins and there is money in MAGA, Brandon could turn on a dime. Changes forced by economics don't always have a lot of staying power. (V)

This item appeared on Read it Monday through Friday for political and election news, Saturday for answers to reader's questions, and Sunday for letters from readers.                     State polls                     All Senate candidates