The Republican Establishment is launching a weak attack on Steve Bannon, who is organizing an economic nationalist uprising against Establishment incumbents in the 2018 primaries.
Bannon, who led strategy in President Trump’s White House before positioning himself as a “street fighter” on the outside for populist nationalism, was widely credited for helping lift Roy Moore over Luther Strange in the final weeks of the Alabama Senate primary campaign. Big League Politics called our shot, publishing a Gravis poll days before the election showing Moore in the lead by eight points. He ended up winning by nine.
2018 will be an important bellwether test for populist nationalism going forward. Moore’s win was an optimistic sign. Even though Trump endorsed Strange, he admitted shortly before the election that he might have made a mistake and that he barely knows Strange. This became a Courageous Conservatives ad in the final days.
The GOPe’s Senate Leadership Fund circulated a post-mortem on the Strange defeat, making it clear that they still (at least for appearances’ sake) underestimate Steve Bannon.
Underestimating Steve Bannon is exactly what populist nationalists should want the Establishment to be doing. Bannon is seen as the gatekeeper of Trump’s campaign promises, and he remains committed to White House objectives like making Facebook and Google conform to public-utility regulations and to better negotiating the disastrous trade and debt situation with China.
“The massive resources that independent groups can deploy in races tend to obscure the paramount importance of candidate quality,” snarked the defeated Establishmentarians in their memo.
The Fund’s rationalization does nothing to address the fact that Luther Strange enjoyed vast financial resources courtesy of outside spending. Breitbart News pegged the spending on Strange’s behalf at between $15 million and $30 million, with $30 million being the number employed by the Moore campaign.
Also, the Senate Leadership Fund itself reportedly dropped a cool $9 million for Strange, and the National Rifle Association reportedly kicked in seven figures for the lanky interim senator.
Failed Marco Rubio presidential campaign strategist Alex Conant gave a quote to The Hill trying to dress down Bannon, whose Breitbart News team ran circles around Conant throughout President Trump’s winning primary campaign.
“Although the final tally on spending on this election by the candidates’ campaigns and outside groups is not yet in, estimates of expenditures on Strange’s behalf have the number at between $15 million and $30 million from the beginning of the campaign through yesterday.
Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore defeated Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) by a vote total of 262,204 to 218,066.