WASHINGTON, D.C.– Tuesday’s breaking news that ardent Trump resister Sen. Jeff Flake would no longer seek re-election in 2018 comes just one week after former White House chief strategist and Breitbart News executive chairman Stephen K. Bannon campaigned alongside conservative radio host Laura Ingraham for Flake primary challenger Dr. Kelli Ward.
After heavy resistance to President Donald Trump’s America First agenda, Flake announced that he would not run for re-election in 2018. The news came just a week after Bannon rallied for Ward in Arizona, and a month after Bannon rallied for the ultimately victorious Judge Roy Moore in Alabama against massively-funded Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s hand-picked candidate.
Sen. Bob Corker’s announcement that he would not seek re-election also came hours before Moore’s election win.
Last week, Ingraham headlined a campaign rally for Ward during which she, Bannon, and Ward’s declarations against the Washington, D.C. swamp each elicited a flurry of cheers, shouts, and applause from the crowd. During a pre-rally reception for Ward, Bannon called the “populist revolt” an “incredibly powerful movement.” He described this movement as those working-class and middle-class people who have had it with the “permanent political class and the globalist set of elites that want to rule over you from an imperial city like a new aristocracy.”
Bannon told Ward supporters that the DC establishment disrespects President Donald Trump and is working to derail the President’s economic populist nationalist agenda. He told the crowd “we’re building a grassroots army,” advising them that “it’s going to be their money versus your muscle.”
This battle between swamp money and “grassroots muscle” is the same picture Bannon painted on the SiriusXM Breitbart News Daily radio program ahead of the Alabama Republican primary runoff election showdown between grassroots U.S. Senate candidate Judge Roy Moore and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s hand-picked candidate and former lobbyist Luther Strange.
The Ward rally declarations and crowd cheers rang true to those heard just a month prior at Alabama rallies for Judge Moore. A host of conservatives endorsed Moore against McConnell’s candidate, and several rallied for him on the ground.
Four days before the Republican primary runoff election between Moore and Strange, former Alaska Gov. and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, Rep. Louie Gohmert, and former deputy assistant to the President Sebastian Gorka headlined a rally for Moore. Palin pinpointed the swamp’s fear of Moore to the Judge’s refusal to be one of them, and thus his “threat to their power.” She urged Alabama voters to “send the loudest message you can send to D.C. at this time.”
On the eve of the election, a rural Fairhope, Alabama barn was packed to overflowing with exuberant Moore supporters rallying to a fiery tune of encouragement from Bannon, Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson, and Brexit leader Nigel Farage. Bannon brought word that the populist, nationalist, conservative movement is on the rise. Farage spoke of the ordinary, decent people – despised by the political establishment and fed up with it– led a global movement that made 2016 a great, historical year. Breitbart London Editor-in-Chief Raheem Kassam told the crowd that Farage understood the Moore race as he, too, had faced millions in establishment money spent opposing the Brexit referendum.
Moore and his $1-2 million-in-support was up against behemoth establishment swamp money favoring his opponent to the tune of an estimated $15-30 million. The McConnell-linked Senate Leadership Fund alone pumped massive amounts of money into the race in its final days. After all, the now disgraced former Gov. of Alabama Robert Bentley, who appointed Strange to the Senate seat vacated by now U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has admitted to reporters that the first name McConnell gave him as a possible appointee was Strange’s.
Then came the day of what came to be Moore’s victory in the Alabama runoff election. Just hours before the results came in, an announcement came from establishment Sen. Bob Corker: He would not seek re-election in 2018.
Look back to last week’s Ward campaign rally, where Bannon heralded that between Corker’s 2018 dropout and Moore’s win over McConnell’s candidate, “Mitch is 0-2.”
Just a week later, Flake announced he would not seek re-election, admitting that he could not win. NeverTrumper Flake has relentlessly bashed President Trump in both statements and in his recent book – which stole it’s name from conservative icon Barry Goldwater, also of Arizona.
Upon news of Flake’s impending retirement from the Senate, Bannon declared, “Our movement will defeat you in primaries or force you to retire. The days of establishment Republicans who oppose the people’s America First agenda are numbered.”
Strange, Corker, and Flake are not the last of the establishment that could jump ship or lose in the 2018 Republican primaries. In addition to Moore and Ward, several other candidates throughout the country have announced plans to challenge incumbents and establishment-backed candidates in the vein of the populist-economic-nationalist message that President Trump campaigned on.
Kevin Nicholson is facing off against increasingly establishment-backed State Senator Leah Vukmir in Wisonsin’s open primary election. The two are competing for the seat now held by Democrat Sen. Tammy Baldwin.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn is looking to take up the seat that Corker will be vacating.
Montana State Auditor Matt Rosendale is looking to unseat red-state Democrat Sen. Jon Tester.
And in West Virginia, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has his sights set on Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin’s seat. These are just a few of the anti-establishment candidates rising up across the country as the 2018 midterm elections approach.
The same day Flake announced he will not run for re-election, the Hill released a new Harvard-Harris Poll which found that 56 percent of Republican voters want McConnell to resign from his position as Senate Majority Leader.
Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana