Orlando, FL—At 9 a.m. on a recent Wednesday, volunteers and staff already had packed the anonymous-looking suburban house that serves as Americans for Prosperity’s local headquarters. They fueled up on coffee and breakfast pastries before venturing out in the already-beating sun, nearly a year and half before the next big election, to knock on conservative voters’ doors.
AFP, one of the main arms of the Koch brothers’ conservative political machine, is best known for its corporate titan founders and multi-million-dollar ad campaigns blasting congressional Democrats. The nonprofit helped GOP candidates up and down the ballot win elections in 2014, and you could practically hear Democrats biting their nails when the Kochs revealed their network’s 2015-2016 budget: a whopping $889 million.
But on that Wednesday, AFP’s volunteers were mobilizing against a Republican, blasting state Senate President Andy Gardiner’s proposal to take federal funds to put more low-income Floridians on Medicaid. The volunteers, armed with brochures and scripts (as well as lots of chilled Gatorade and water) were knocking on doors here in the hopes of driving conservatives to register opposition to the plan.
It’s part of nationwide trend: AFP has spent 2015 raising hell in GOP-dominated statehouses, where the group feels some Republicans have strayed from conservative principles.