It's Civil War

9 October 2017

Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Bannon Plots Primary Challenges to Sitting GOP Senators

The civil war within the Republican Party escalated when Steve Bannon, former chief strategist to President Trump, announced he is going to back candidates against sitting Republican senators in next year's primaries. His purpose is to get enough pro-nationalist senators elected to dump Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and for those new senators to abolish the filibuster so a simple majority could ram through his anti-foreigner agenda. This journal believes he will fail, but his attempt will harm the party.

As of this morning, Mr. Bannon is targeting Wyoming's John Barrasso, Nebraska's Deb Fischer and Utah's grand old man of the Senate Orrin Hatch. These are additions to his earlier announced targets Jeff Flake of Arizona, Roger Wicker of Mississippi and Nevada's Dean Heller. Sources who spoke to CNN said this list was not complete and that there were no safe incumbents. Ted Cruz of Texas, however, has been mentioned as someone who doesn't need to worry because Mr. Bannon is hopeful that he can be turned to the darker side.

Mr. Bannon is convinced that he will succeed based on the premise that he got unbenched judge Roy Moore nominated over the sitting incumbent Luther Strange who enjoyed the support of Mr. McConnell and the president. Mr. Bannon believes that there is a pent-up demand in the hearts of Republican primary voters for guys like the ex-judge -- gun-toting, theologically ignorant pretend Christian, crypto-racist yahoos. Of that, one has no doubt. However, one doubts they represent a majority of primary voters in most states.

Ben Kasimar writing on explained lucidly why Mr. Moore's victory should not be considered a template for other races. "The Alabama race hinged on several factors that are unlikely to reappear the next time Bannon tries to take out a GOP incumbent.

"For one, Strange had been appointed to the seat temporarily by then-Gov. Robert Bentley (R), who later resigned in disgrace and pleaded guilty to charges related to an alleged affair. Critics blasted Strange, the state's former attorney general, for accepting the appointment even as his office investigated Bentley, opening Strange up to accusations he won the seat through a corrupt deal with Bentley.

"Moore also had a unique popularity with Alabama's evangelical GOP voters, thanks to his role in two controversial court showdowns -- one ordering him to remove a Ten Commandments statue he commissioned from public land and one over the federal Supreme Court's decision legalizing same-sex marriage.

The same story quoted Alex Conant, a strategist from Marco Rubio's (R-FL) presidential bid, saying "Moore was leading this race long before Bannon got involved and he won this race for reasons that have nothing to do with Bannon's involvement."

So, some of the people who know the game of party politics take the view that Mr. Bannon was far from decisive and the quality of the candidates who throw their hats into the various rings matters more.

It is genuinely hard to see how Mr. Bannon succeeds in ousting more than a couple of incumbents, and in trying, he is likely to lose more times than he wins. Name recognition matters in a general election campaign, and a sitting US Senator has rather a lot of that. Challengers who lack the same degree of notoriety are likely to lose. And even if they succeed, selling a hard-right nationalist in many red states is not going to be easy. He may even cost the GOP seats. The late William F. Buckley, Jr., argued for nominating the most conservative candidate who could win the general election. But the looks of thinks, Mr. Bannon has forgotten about the last phrase.

© Copyright 2017 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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