Bannon pledges not to go to war vs. House Republicans
Top House GOP campaign strategists met with former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon on Friday morning — an indication party leaders are attempting to avert the divisive primaries that Bannon is organizing against Senate Republicans.
National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) and John Rogers, the organization’s executive director, went to the Capitol Hill townhouse that serves as a base of operations for Bannon and his Breitbart News website. Bannon pledged to Stivers and Rogers that his focus is not on toppling establishment-oriented House incumbents in the 2018 midterm elections, ccording to two people familiar with the meeting, but rather on waging an all-out war against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Story Continued Below
Bannon has launched a national effort to target Senate GOP incumbents and other McConnell-aligned Republican candidates.
There was a broad understanding that both sides wouldn’t always agree. At one point during the meeting, which stretched on for nearly 40 minutes, discussion turned to North Carolina Rep. Robert Pittenger, whose primary opponent, pastor Mark Harris, is running with Bannon’s support.
Yet the overall tenor of the meeting centered on how both sides could work together — and there was agreement that a Democratic House takeover would have profound consequences for the Trump White House. Stivers and Rogers asked whether Bannon would be open to signing an NRCC fundraising appeal, and the former White House aide said he would consider it.
Bannon also said he was interested in finding ways to win Democratic-held seats in areas that President Donald Trump performed well in, particularly those in Rust Belt states like Minnesota.
Friday’s meeting was initiated by the NRCC, which reached out to Bannon’s side earlier this week. Party officials said they were not looking to extract promises from Bannon but rather to establish a relationship with him.
Behind the scenes, Bannon has been telling conservative leaders to focus on primaries in the Senate and not the House. He has framed Senate primaries — beginning with this fall’s Alabama GOP runoff – as headline-grabbing, climactic battles that will determine the direction of the Republican Party during the Trump era. Senate Republican strategists have responded with fury, casting Bannon as an out-of-the mainstream figure who is threatening to imperil the party’s midterm prospects.
Yet Bannon has expressed interest in some House races. In addition to Harris, Bannon has thrown his support to former New York Rep. Michael Grimm, who has launched a primary campaign against GOP Rep. Dan Donovan. Michael Caputo, a 2016 Trump adviser, is advising Grimm.
Bannon’s best opportunity to shape House primaries, however, comes in open seats. In the last week, two Texas Republicans announced their exits, leaving ruby-red seats that are ripe for outside forces to take sides in. House Republican operatives expect more retirements before the end of the year.
In Idaho, a four-way primary is shaping up to replace Rep. Raul Labrador, who’s running for governor. In Kansas, another four-way race is developing to take over for Rep. Lynn Jenkins, who’s leaving Congress. In West Virginia, two GOP candidates are squaring off to replace Rep. Evan Jenkins, who’s running for Senate.
On Friday morning, NRCC officials told Bannon they would not go out of their way to impede his efforts to elect conservatives in safely Republican open seats.
via Politico http://politi.co/2lnbIsw
November 3, 2017 at 07:45AM