It’s Steve Bannon’s Party Now

The outcome of the Republican Senate run-off in Alabama didn’t surprise anyone. But the narrative coming out of the race is beginning the shape the dynamics of the GOP heading into the 2018 midterms. As I have been saying, it is shaping up to be a battle between the establishment and the insurgents, fueled by the oligarchs who want to control the GOP.

Leading the insurgents is Steve Bannon, with the backing of his own personal oligarch, Robert Mercer. Coming out of the Alabama run-off, that is the side with all of the juice right now. Take a look at what conservative David Drucker wrote about that yesterday:

Steve Bannon has begun meeting with Republican donors at their request, as party financiers in the wake of the Alabama special election attempt to learn what President Trump’s former chief strategist has planned for 2018.

Some GOP bundlers, in Washington this week for a Republican National Committee fundraiser, sought meetings with Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News, to forge relationships and better understand his plans to target Republican incumbents in 2018 primaries…

“It seems like McConnell’s star is fading and Bannon’s is rising. I wanted to break bread with the guy and figure out his thinking,” said Dan Eberhart, a Republican donor from Phoenix who was scheduled to meet with Bannon on Wednesday.

Drucker goes to say that many of these donors are angry that Republicans failed to repeal Obamacare and are worried that they will also fail to pass tax cuts. So they’re ready to bolt. Bannon could be their Pied Piper.

A story like this is probably more important as a statement about momentum than it is about money. Trump spent almost nothing in his presidential campaign and Roy Moore was hugely outspent by his opponent. Bannon is very aware of how all of that is changing.

One Republican donor who has already met with Bannon said that he communicated his view that money isn’t as important in elections as it used to be.

The former White House chief strategist and CEO Of Trump’s presidential campaign believes he could help drive Republican challenger candidates to victory next year with the technological tools now available to campaigns.

I’m sure that Bannon is well-versed in how to use new technology tools in campaigns. But he is also a master at manipulating the media and weaponizing stories about his opponents—much like the rat-f*cking that was practiced by his pal Roger Stone.

It will be interesting to watch how McConnell responds to this challenge. As we saw with Jeb Bush in the presidential primary and Luther Strange in the Alabama run-off, all the money in the world doesn’t guarantee anything. If that is all McConnell brings to the table, he’s probably toast. At least until further notice, it’s Steve Bannon’s party now.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.