The Koch Network dropped out of Haley’s presidential campaign

Americans for Prosperity Action said it had to “take stock” after Haley’s loss in South Carolina.

Americans For Prosperity Action, the powerful conservative group supporting Nikki Haley in the Republican presidential primary, will no longer spend money on behalf of her campaign.

Americans For Prosperity CEO Emily Seidel said Sunday that the group’s political arm, AFP Action, had to “take stock” of its spending priorities after Haley’s loss in the South Carolina primary. The Koch-aligned group, Seidel said, will now focus its efforts on competitive Senate and House races.

“She has made it clear that she will continue to fight and we wholeheartedly support her in this effort,” Seidel wrote of Haley. “But given the challenges in the primary states ahead, we don’t believe any outside group can make a material difference to widen her path to victory.”

AFP Action’s decision is the latest blow to Haley’s longshot presidential bid, which has sustained losses in four early nominating states and the Virgin Islands, including on Saturday, when former President Donald Trump beat Haley in her home state by 20 points. Haley declared she will continue on in her primary fight, but has only committed to running through Super Tuesday on March 5.

AFP Action had funded advertisements and field operations for months last year that were designed to persuade Republican voters to back someone other than Trump in the presidential primary. But it wasn’t until late November that AFP Action tapped Haley as its desired Trump alternative. Since then, AFP has reached out to more than 3 million voters in early nominating and Super Tuesday states, as well as purchased millions of dollars worth of ads on Haley’s behalf.

Unlike the Club for Growth — another conservative group whose political action committee funded anti-Trump ads last year before making peace with Trump — AFP is sticking by its position that Trump on the ballot will make it harder for the GOP to win in November.

“If Donald Trump is at the top of the Republican ticket, the risk of one-party rule by a Democratic Party captured by the Progressive Left is severe and would do irreparable damage to the country,” Seidel wrote Sunday. “The last three election cycles have painted a very clear picture of what we can expect from voters who consistently rejected Donald Trump and his impact on the Republican party brand.”

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She noted Virginia statehouse elections last fall and special elections in New York and Pennsylvania earlier this month, as recent data points showing Republicans underperforming.

“And we should expect this to increase further as the criminal trials progress,” Seidel added, referring to Trump’s ongoing legal problems. Trump is scheduled to stand trial on March 25 on charges stemming from hush money payments to a porn star.

While the decision by AFP to stop spending represents a blow to her campaign, Haley is still raising strong amounts of cash on her own. That, in turn, has allowed her to sustain her bid despite its string of losses.

Olivia Perez-Cubas, a spokesperson for Haley, thanked AFP for its support and said the campaign has “plenty of fuel to keep going” and a “country to save.” Perez-Cubas on Sunday afternoon said Haley had raised more than $1 million online in the last 24 hours.

“AFP is a great organization and ally in the fight for freedom and conservative government,” Perez-Cubas said. “We thank them for their tremendous help in this race.”

A spokesperson for AFP Action declined to say how much the organization spent boosting Haley’s campaign. In addition to television, digital and mail ads, AFP Action deployed hundreds of field workers on the ground to knock doors in the early states.

Seidel said the group “stands firm behind our endorsement for Nikki Haley,” describing her as “a special leader with conviction, resolve, and steel in her spine to jump into a tough race with a narrow path.”

Even prior to pulling the plug on Haley, AFP Action had started to boost its endorsed Senate candidates, including launching an ad buy last week in Montana and running digital advertisements in Nevada and Pennsylvania. The group also endorsed in the Wisconsin Senate race and plans to back candidates in the Ohio and Michigan races, too, Seidel said. She said this year’s Senate races were always AFP’s “top priority.”

Mark Harris, lead adviser with the primary super PAC supporting Haley’s bid, SFA Fund, Inc., told POLITICO ahead of the South Carolina primary that his group would continue to support her as long as she remains in the race. The pro-Haley super PAC, which has spent more on advertisements in the Republican presidential primary than any other group, is expected to make additional ad buys in Super Tuesday states in the coming days.