Articles

Steve Bannon’s Motley Crew of Challengers

October 19, 2017
Bef230b794dab25235d37da0efc27421

Steve Bannon, the failed presidential adviser and alt-right sympathizer, has declared war on incumbent Republicans, particularly Sen. Mitch McConnell. From his perch at Breitbart, Mr. Bannon is vowing to defeat officeholders who back Mr. McConnell as majority leader or who won’t sign onto Mr. Bannon’s populist agenda. So what kind of challengers is Mr. Bannon marshaling for the midterms?

The first House candidate Mr. Bannon has blessed is former Rep. Michael Grimm, who was forced to resign his New York seat in 2015 after pleading guilty to tax fraud. Recently released after seven months in the federal pen, Mr. Grimm will challenge his successor, Rep. Dan Donovan. Presumably Mr. Grimm won’t campaign in his orange prison jumpsuit.

Mr. Bannon has also tried recruiting his first gubernatorial candidate: Colorado’s former Rep. Tom Tancredo, a nativist who once said President Obama was “a more serious threat to America than al Qaeda,” who routinely attacks immigrants for turning America into a “Third World country,” and who earlier this year accepted a speaking invitation from a white-nationalist group.

Mr. Bannon is also throwing support to upstart Senate challengers. In Nevada, where Sen. Dean Heller is up for re-election, Mr. Bannon supports Danny Tarkanian, a perennial candidate who has lost five races for four different state and federal offices. Mr. Tarkanian’s sixth time is unlikely to be the charm.

On Tuesday Mr. Bannon was in Arizona campaigning for Kelli Ward against Sen. Jeff Flake. As a state senator, Ms. Ward held a June 2014 town hall to explore the claim that jet contrails are really chemicals sprayed by the government for weather, mind or population control. She later expressed no regrets about hosting this conspiracy confab, saying elected officials are supposed to “listen to the people” and “get them the information that they need to feel confident that they live in a safe environment.” Ms. Ward has praised Edward Snowden, who fled the U.S. in 2013 and has been charged with espionage. She supports eliminating the Patriot Act, which provides vital tools to combat Islamic terrorism.

In Wyoming, Mr. Bannon is recruiting Erik Prince, founder of the security firm Blackwater, to challenge Sen. John Barrasso. Mr. Prince was born in Michigan and keeps a second home in Virginia. But he and his family have lived in Abu Dhabi since 2010.

He now runs Frontier Services Group , a security company financed by a Chinese state-owned conglomerate and hired to protect Chinese energy projects in Africa. He is scouting Wyoming real estate and trying to score a local driver’s license, but no one from Abu Dhabi has ever been elected in Wyoming.

In open seats or races with Democratic incumbents, Mr. Bannon is backing consensus mainstream candidates: Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (whom Mr. McConnell and I helped recruit); Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn ; Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel (on whose 2012 Senate bid American Crossroads spent millions).

Mr. Bannon justifies his jihad against incumbent Republicans by claiming that they “do not want Donald Trump’s populist, economic nationalist agenda to be implemented.” That’s nonsense. Keep in mind that after being forced out of the White House in August, Mr. Bannon declared that “the Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over.” He also attacked Mr. Trump’s policy toward North Korea and criticized the president’s support for a bill that would keep the “Dreamers” from being deported.

To continue reading this article, visit WSJ.com

Furthermore, Nate Silver’s Five Thirty Eight reports that six of the seven Republican senators seeking re-election next year have voted with the president’s position more than 90% of the time. So has every member of the Senate leadership. Mr. McConnell and Mr. Barrasso both have sided with the White House 96% of the time. The figure for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is only 94%, yet Mr. Bannon deems him acceptable.

It will be more than a year before the curtain closes on Mr. Bannon’s script for a Republican Götterdämmerung. But his first test is Alabama’s Dec. 12 special election for the Senate. Mr. Bannon’s pick, Roy Moore, leads Democrat Doug Jones by a mere 4.4 points in the Real Clear Politics polling average. Over the past two decades, the typical margin for an Alabama Republican running statewide is about 23 points.

While still favored to win, Mr. Moore’s margin will be the first evidence of whether Mr. Bannon has picked a team of winners or just a collection of misfits and ne’er-do-wells.

Related Article

Aac965c72c5aae76d28accc8899229fa
November 08, 2018 |
Article
The election’s outcome feels like the end of an elementary-school soccer season. Everyone gets a ribbon. Everybody leaves with something to brag about. A very favorable electoral map allowed Republicans to expand their lead in the Senate. ...
3ad84d39db7fbb981c73deb933e5532d
November 01, 2018 |
Article
The final week of a midterm election is always brutal. Candidates rush from event to event, staffers debate the campaign’s closing message, fundraisers scrabble for the last dollar, and volunteers beg supporters to turn out to vote. ...
3a33e2ee06dd0b70ec4ad7c30d7e09c5
October 25, 2018 |
Article
‘I am on the ticket because this is also a referendum about me,” President Trump said at a Mississippi rally on Oct. 2. He is correct: Every midterm election is to some degree about the Oval Office’s occupant. ...
84a3030075b3ef626c823c5d82ea9c85
October 18, 2018 |
Article
Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings jolted Republican enthusiasm. The July 22 NPR/PBS News House/Marist poll, for example, found that 78% of Democrats and only 68% of Republicans considered this midterm “very important.”  ...
Button karlsbooks
Button readinglist
Button nextapperance