By Benjamin Kane (Political Correspondent)
Stephen Bannon may be out of the White House, but his wildfire-esque influence is still being felt. In fact, he may have just gotten started.
Bannon was a chief strategist in the Trump Administration before being fired in August 2017. Now, back at his old job as editor-in-chief of Breitbart News, Bannon will be heading a several-candidate campaign for the 2018 midterm elections. These candidates are meant to be opponents to Republican senators who have not moved the far-right agenda far enough in Congress, or have taken legislative action against President Trump. These actions are alerting the mainstream Republican party, which has been marred by the rise of the alt-right; the infamous far-right group whose policies are similar to Bannon’s, over the past year.
Bannon has said that he was willing to start a war with the mainstream Republican party, headed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “They’re not going to help you unless they’re put on notice they’re going to be held accountable,” Bannon said.
President Donald Trump agreed with Bannon’s sentiments, tweeting late August that he was in favor of seeing a few of the more moderate Republicans in the Senate go. One senator especially is “Flake” Jeff Flake, (R-AZ), who has notably taken a stance against Trump’s immigration policies. Trump called him “toxic” and a “non-factor” in the Senate in the August Twitter rant. Trump has also informally endorsed a candidate supported by Bannon, Dr. Kelli Ward, who is running against Flake in the 2018 election.
Despite this, Flake said in an interview with CNN that he wasn’t concerned about his job security. “I think the voters here expect me to have my own franchise, to represent them, not to be a rubber stamp for the president, so I’m quite comfortable being where I am.”
Jonathan Tobin, a writer for the conservative news source The National Review calls Bannon’s actions the start of a “Republican Civil War”. According to Tobin, Bannon’s actions leave the Republican party vulnerable to losing Republican-held seats to the Democrats. “The weakness of many of the people Bannon may back, such as Kelli Ward in Arizona… will result in primary flops or seats lost to the Democrats in the general election.”
However, according to Politico writer Seung Min Kim, Bannon is unconcerned about the future of the Republican party, and is moving swiftly to create challengers to senators across the country. Kim says that “[Bannon] met privately last week with Nevada attorney Danny Tarkanian — who has announced a primary challenger to Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) — and is getting behind Roy Moore, the controversial former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, who has consistently led in polls against Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.).” Moore won the Republican primary race this week and now will face the Democrat Doug Jones in the general election in December.
Mr. Fazzio, the Sharon High Social Studies coordinator, said that Bannon in general is a controversial figure, in his tenure with the White House as well as Breitbart. “This is a guy who’s into getting attention by saying outrageous things.”
Fazzio added “People like that can be dangerous, if enough people start to believe,”
“What’s happened is we’ve lost the ability to have a discussion in this country, and to civilly agree to disagree.”