Looking out over a packed Alabama barn, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon paced the stage and declared: “I come to you unshaven, unkempt, in this old bomber jacket, just like I was on the campaign.”
Bannon delivered invective about Mitch McConnell, deriding the Senate majority leader as part of a political class that is “the most corrupt and incompetent group of individuals in the country”, and rallied the crowd at an election eve rally for Roy Moore’s insurgent campaign, the Guardian reports.
The next day, Moore – a conservative jurist who had waved his gun at a campaign rally and arrived on horseback to cast his vote – won the Republican special election primary against Luther Strange, an incumbent backed by Trump himself.
Kurt Bardella, a former media consultant for Breitbart, said: “It was very important to Steve to show that he’s more than one-trick pony. After Steve left the White House, Alabama was his first visible show and he wanted to win this one to show that he is just as strong, if not stronger, than he was before and that he will continue to be an influential force during the Trump presidency and beyond.”
Alabama was also the opening salvo in a potential Republican civil war in the 2018 mid-term elections as the party continues to grapple with the rise of Trump and the lasting political consequences. Republicans have been unable to leverage Trump’s shock victory last year for legislative success.
Already Bannon is touring the country and meeting with candidates who will carry forward such an agenda. He told the Bloomberg agency: “The populist-nationalist movement proved in Alabama that a candidate with the right ideas and a grassroots organisation can win big. Now, our focus is on recruiting candidates to take over the Republican party.”