Pennsylvania voters approved two constitutional amendments to limit a governor’s emergency powers in the wake of COVID-19 mandates in 2021. One of the forces behind the successful effort was the free market organization Americans for Prosperity (AFP).

AFP worked to make that happen, knocking on doors and talking to voters, helping to shape public opinion. And the AFP Action, its political wing, will be on the ground running in 2024, with endorsements for the presidential primary, U.S. Senate, Congress, and other races, said Ashley Klingensmith, AFP state director.

The free-market activist group has been in Pennsylvania for 13 years and has activists in all 67 counties. They are also in all 50 states.

“We’re looking to expand as we move into next year,” said Klingensmith. “We do a lot of skills training through our sister organization, Americans for Prosperity Foundation.”

The organization works against “government barriers to economic opportunity,” said Emily Greene, deputy state director. It focuses on policy issues like licensing and regulation reform, economic opportunity, taxation, and spending.

And like the press, it tries to hold government officials accountable, said Klingensmith.

Its key issues include taxes. According to WalletHub, Pennsylvania has the third-highest taxes overall of the 50 states, including the highest gas tax, and it is in the top five among states where residents vote with their feet, moving to other states for better opportunities.

AFP puts a lot of effort into its Pennsylvania taxpayer scorecard, said Klingensmith. It tracks how representatives and senators vote on various “key” bills and rates them.

They are “bills that we believe are going to be the most transformative,” said Klingensmith. “One of the differences between us and other advocacy organizations is that we do focus principally on transformational policy. While there are 5,000-plus bills introduced in a given legislative session, we’re honing in on a few dozen of the most transformative.”

Greene said AFP does not coordinate with individual campaigns but does its own canvassing, phone banking, and digital marketing for candidates they have endorsed.

“We’re sticking to our message, our vision, and why that individual is worthy of an AFP endorsement. We got involved in some primary races last year. One was for Rep. Natalie Mihalek (R) in Allegheny and Washington Counties. That was one where it came down to (about) 800 votes. It was very, very close, and we were the force that got her over the finish line because we believe she had been such a champion under the dome in Harrisburg, she deserved another shot.”

“We do everything through our activists,” said Klingensmith. “We’re out there knocking with them as well. And we don’t write checks to get our point across. We do it all through manpower in the grassroots.”

Another “exciting race” it was a part of was for Rep. Marla Brown (R-Lawrence), whom the group endorsed. She beat an incumbent who had been in Harrisburg for nearly two decades.

“She promoted a message of change,” said Greene, with “a priority of removing governmental barriers and tax reform.”

“We were super excited to play a small part in that race,” she said.

“We are very public with what we do,” Klingensmith said. “All of the endorsements and political engagements that we have are announced through press releases. We are like the tip of the spear. We are in communities 365 days a year. We were at the last two President Biden visits in the southeast…I was there protesting.

“Politics, at the end of the day, is just a means to a greater political landscape,” she said.

Christine Ravold, an AFP spokeswoman, said, “Last year, we knocked on nearly a million doors for Dr. Oz. We don’t know who it’s going to be in the 2024 cycle. We’re getting involved in a presidential primary for the first time ever.

“And we’re looking at a number of statewide races,” she continued. “We want somebody to be challenging (Sen.) Bob Casey. And we’re looking at some districts that are ripe for targeting, like (Rep.) Susan Wild’s in the 7th.”

To that end, AFP opened an office in Allentown on Thursday.

The group does not know who it will be backing in the presidential primary.

“We’re doing a full court press talking to right-of-center voters to see where they’re at on the issues, where they’re at on the candidates that have already announced,” said Greene. “We just want to get a good sense of where the electorate is.”

The final survey question was: Do you still think people can achieve the American Dream, or are the country’s best days behind us?

“In Pennsylvania, 67 percent of the people we talked to fully believe the country’s best days are behind us as a result of bad policies,” said Greene. “So we see that our work is cut out for us. And we’re trying to be that positive force so we can get this country and this commonwealth back in positive shape.”

And even though Democrats in Philadelphia have a 7-1 voter advantage, AFP has an outreach director in the city, Roslyn Williams.

“We’re doing critical work, building relationships with voters,” said Klingensmith.