Bannon’s Playbook: How He’ll Wreck the GOP Establishment


WASHINGTON — Steve Bannon and his allies don’t have to win every battle in their guerrilla war to take down the Republican political establishment. They just have to wreak enough havoc to alter the behavior of GOP lawmakers.

And that’s what Bannon, the former chief White House strategist and campaign manager for Donald Trump, is promising to do in the corridors of Washington power and on the electoral map.

His core argument: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and establishment-minded Republican members of Congress are thwarting President Donald Trump’s agenda through a combination of sabotage and incompetence. Conservative voters should both demand a change in Senate GOP leadership and use primary elections to oust Republicans who aren’t in lock step with Trump, the anti-establishment Republicans contend.

Bannon’s aggressive strategy and tactics — including a full assault on McConnell and securing the financial backing of mega-donors— have given new urgency to the insurgency.

“The battle royale between Trump and the base vs. McConnell and the establishment is upon us,” said David Bozell, president of For America, one of several conservative activist groups that share Bannon’s goals.

“It’s just going to get hotter and hotter and hotter,” added Bozell, who last week called on McConnell and his team to resign from Senate leadership. “The litmus test is — whether you’re an incumbent or a challenger — we’re looking to see who’s going to support Mitch McConnell or not. If you’re going to support Mitch McConnell and this leadership team, there’s not going to be an appetite for you.”

The fight between the wings of the Republican Party has been raging since long before Bannon became a familiar figure on the national political scene last year. It coincided with the rise of the Tea Party in the 2010 election cycle and intensified with Trump’s defeat of a legion of GOP current and former officeholders in the 2016 presidential primary.

“Right now, it’s a season of war against the GOP establishment,” Bannon, the head of the conservative Breitbart media outlet, said Saturday at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C.

Image: President Donald Trump and Steve Bannon

President Donald Trump (L) congratulating Senior Counselor to the President Stephen Bannon during the swearing-in of senior staff in the East Room of the White House, Washington, DC.