Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has acknowledged that his renegade campaign to replace the Republican establishment with fresh faces committed to his brand of outsider populism failed.
“People are starting to realize that the anti-establishment thing is kind of a luxury we can’t afford right now,” Bannon told the New York Times Friday, roughly six months after vowing to oust Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell as part of a broader effort to defeat every Republican incumbent senator up for reelection in 2018.
Of the dozens of upstart candidates Bannon championed earlier this year, just two remain, according to the Times.
Much of the the momentum behind Bannon’s movement has been stripped away as its former chief spokesman and practitioner, President Trump, began to form once-unthinkable alliances with establishment Republicans such as Senator Dean Heller of Nevada. Trump supported Heller in his primary against Danny Tarkanian, whom Trump convinced to forego a Senate run in order to run for the House.
The demise of Bannon’s once feared insurgency was also helped along by the defeat of Judge Roy Moore, whom Bannon had backed to the hilt in the Alabama senate election. Allegations that Moore preyed on multiple teenagers throughout his early political career created a disastrous public-relations mess for Trump — who ultimately gave his full-throated support to Moore — and seemingly demonstrated that establishment concerns about the political risk associated with backing Bannon’s candidates were well-founded.