Tim Phillips, the national president of Americans for Prosperity, said the organization could have a real effect on local races, where it does not have to deal with all the Washington special interests.
The main reason “we fight local issue battles is because they result in good policy outcomes, generally promoting economic freedom via less taxes, less government spending,” he said.
But here, in this town of fewer than 20,000 residents, the group has not been so welcome, and the nonpartisan campaign has become an informal referendum on the involvement of outsiders.
Even residents who agree with Americans for Prosperity’s core argument — that the city’s debt is out of control — question the group’s motives for wading into the race. That has forced the candidates who share the group’s beliefs to keep the organization at a distance.
Chris Turner, a first-time candidate for the City Council who has spoken out against the debt, said that although he disagreed with Americans for Prosperity on most issues, he could not seem to catch a break because his campaign platform aligns with the organization.
“Every time I go to a debate or anything, I’ve tried talking about the budget, and then they just go, ‘Koch brothers, Koch brothers, Koch brothers,’ ” he said of his critics, adding that he wished Americans for Prosperity “would just go away.”