Conservative Groups Get Behind Bannon Revolt Against Republican Establishment

Tea party groups and other prominent grass-roots conservative operations say they are on board with Stephen K. Bannon’s crusade to oust the entire slate of incumbent Republicans because the former White House political strategist is tapping into the same anti-establishment mood they have been sensing for a while.

The groups say they are active in every election but expect 2018 to be a banner year for ousting incumbent Republicans. They say their base is outraged that, despite having control of both the House and Senate, Republicans have yet to notch major conservative wins.

Mr. Bannon, who is now back running the right-wing Breitbart website, isn’t calling the shots for the movement, according to the groups. But the former Trump adviser is on to something.

He is also affiliated with Great America Political Action Committee, which in recent days has endorsed a Republican challenger to Sen. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican. Mr. Flake announced Tuesday that he plans to retire rather than seek re-election — one week after Mr. Bannon endorsed his anticipated challenger, former state Sen. Kelli Ward.

Other conservatives say that while the quality of the insurgent movement’s candidates varies from race to race, the real issue with Mr. Bannon’s cause is that it lacks an overall focus.

Ford O’Connell, a pro-Trump Republican strategist, said he doesn’t see Mr. Bannon’s efforts as benefits for the Trump agenda.

“His goal appears to be ousting McConnell more than pushing the Trump agenda,” he said.

Some of the senators Mr. Bannon promised to oppose voted with Mr. Trump a vast majority of the time, he said.

Mr. O’Connell agrees that incumbents need to be challenged but said Mr. Bannon must be more strategic about the races in which to become involved.

States like Nevada, where the Republican incumbent is especially weak, have been trending blue for the past few cycles now, and Mr. O’Connell said a fringe candidate could cost Republicans the seat.

“It’s not enough to challenge and defeat the sitting incumbent,” he said.

Read more from Sally Persons at The Washington Times

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