President Trump's officially designated political advocacy organization issued a stern warning Tuesday to Republicans in Congress: support the White House or face potentially millions of dollars in attack ads in 2018.
America First Policies is on the air in North Carolina's 3rd Congressional District with more than $100,000 in "hard-hitting" cable television and digital advertising, plus phone calls, to pressure Republican Rep. Walter Jones to drop his opposition to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act ahead of Thursday's planned vote. Trump is championing the tax overhaul as key to his economic agenda and a fulfillment of his 2016 campaign promises.
This round of ads is targeting Jones, who regularly bucks GOP leadership. But AFP, a political nonprofit staffed with Trump insiders, indicated that other Republicans are in their sights — and not just if they oppose tax reform. The group plans to target other Republicans who oppose the president over the next 12 months, leading into the midterm elections.
“This is the moment to put dollars in the pockets of hard-working middle-class North Carolinians, and Congressman Jones is standing with the opposition. The choice is simple: You’re either with the middle class, or you're with the special interests,” Brian O. Walsh, president of AFP, said in a statement shared with the Washington Examiner.
America First Policies has previously pressured Republicans who opposed a Trump priority. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., was briefly a target during the since-aborted effort to repeal and replace Obamacare; he eventually supported the Senate bill, although it didn't pass. In going after Jones, a regular "no" vote on Trump legislation, AFP is sending a message that it intends to invest resources attacking fellow Republicans, even if it endangers their re-election in 2018.