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Bannon rallies troops for GOP war

AP/Jackson
Filed on October 14, 2017 | Last updated on October 14, 2017 at 11.02 pm
Steve Bannon introduces Roy Moore (not seen), a Republican candidate for the US Senate in Alabama, at an election rally in Montgomery, Alabama

(AFP)

Bannon is promoting challengers to GOP incumbents and the party's preferred candidates in next year's midterm elections.

President Donald Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon has declared war on the Republican establishment, and now he's amassing his troops. They include a convicted felon, a perennial candidate linked to an environmental conspiracy theory, and a Southern lawmaker known for provocative ethnic and racial comments.

Bannon is promoting challengers to GOP incumbents and the party's preferred candidates in next year's midterm elections. It's an insurgency that could imperil Republican majorities in the House and Senate.

The emerging Bannon class of rabble-rousers share limited ideological ties but have a common intent to upend Washington and knock out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., standard-bearer of the establishment.

It's a crop of candidates that unnerves a GOP that lost seats - and a shot at the Senate majority - in 2010 and 2012 with political novices and controversial nominees and fears a stinging repeat in 2018. "The main thing that binds them together is a rejection of the Republican Party establishment, a rejection of the political elites, the financial elites and the media elites," said Andy Surabian, a former Bannon aide and senior adviser to the pro-Trump PAC Great America Alliance.

Bannon helped elevate twice-suspended Judge Roy Moore, who won an Alabama runoff over McConnell's pick, Sen. Luther Strange. Moore was removed from office for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from Alabama's judicial building and then suspended for insisting probate judges refuse same-sex couples marriage licenses. He faces Democrat Doug Jones in a December election where polls show a single-digit lead for the Republican, a remarkable development in Attorney General Jeff Sessions' heavily GOP state.

"We don't have leadership. We have followership," Moore said on Friday at the Values Voter Summit where he argued for scrapping the health care law with no replacement. In West Virginia, the grassroots conservative group Tea Party Express endorsed Patrick Morrissey, also a Great America Alliance choice, over establishment favorite Rep. Evan Jenkins in a competitive race to unseat Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.

Senate Republicans had been upbeat about adding to their 52-48 majority, especially with Democrats defending more seats in 2018, including 10 in states Trump won in last year's presidential election. But the Bannon challenge could cost them, leaving incumbents on the losing end in primaries or GOP candidates roughed up for the general election.

Consider Mississippi, where state Sen. Chris McDaniel lost to veteran Sen. Thad Cochran in 2014, but is weighing a bid next year against Roger Wicker, the state's other senator in the national legislature.

McDaniel misdefined "mamacita," the Spanish word for mommy as "hot mama," and said he would withhold his tax payments if the government paid reparations for slavery.
He also was forced to denounce a supporter who photographed and posted an image of Cochran's bed-ridden wife.


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