As the establishment GOP reels from its seismic defeat in the Alabama Senate race on Tuesday, Breitbart News’s Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow is warning that the populist movement that helped Trump win in 2016 and worked to defeat Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) in 2017 is “invigorated” and ready for war in 2018.
“I think a lot of people’s greatest fears about this movement and how powerful it is were confirmed [Tuesday],” Marlow told the Hill.
Breitbart was widely seen as key in not only bringing greater national attention to the Alabama Senate race, but also in bursting the narrative that the establishment-backed Strange was an advocate for President Trump’s agenda. Breitbart Executive Chairman and former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon was also a central figure in the race, campaigning for Moore with some fiery addresses at rallies.
While Strange was a backer of Trump, and in turn got Trump’s backing, Alabamians were turned off by Strange’s history as a lobbyist, support of anti-American trade deals, and his unclear stance on DACA. Despite the full weight of the establishment, including outspending his opponent Judge Roy Moore 10-1, Strange was soundly beaten.
But having helped win an important battle in the war to get a nationalist/populist agenda enacted, Marlow warns that Alabama was just part of a broader trend that bodes ill for the powers in D.C.
“We see this race in Alabama as a confirmation of our values. We’re in the early stages of a process in which we’re seeing the Republican establishment lose influence and power despite their vast coffers of money. That’s a trend that I think will continue. I think the establishment sees the writing on the wall.”
The Hill reports that Breitbart and Bannon will turn their attention to fights in a dozen states, while Bannon has met with a number of primary challengers to key establishment Republicans in places such as Nevada, Mississippi, and Arizona. It also reported that Bannon and his allies were seeing a primary challenger for Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) after he announced he would not seek re-election — something Marlow also sees as part of a trend.
But it isn’t just Republicans Breitbart and Bannon will be targeting, with Bannon meeting possible challengers in places such as Wisconsin, where Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin is looking wobbly.
The Hill described such intent as “evidence of the scope of Breitbart’s political ambitions.”
In addition to Bannon, Sebastian Gorka, Brexit mastermind Nigel Farage, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin are likely to feature prominently in nationalist-populist efforts to unseat establishment candidates as part of what is being termed a “media-political nexus.” Palin was one of the key figures in the 2010 Tea Party movement and is likely to be a rallying force in 2018 as well.
“[Palin] will be at the forefront in the coming war with the establishment for the heart and soul of the Republican Party,” Andy Surabian, Bannon’s political adviser in the White House, told The Hill. “Few people have more sway with Republican voters than she does.”
“There’s a lot of synergy happening in the anti-establishment movement right now,” Marlow agreed. “People are in sync.”
Breitbart and other such forces are often described as “pro-Trump,” but as Marlow noted, the anti-establishment movement will back Trump only as long as he is on the same page as his supporters.
Trump’s backing of Strange did little to prevent the populist right backing Moore, and he has seen criticism from his base when he has flip-flopped on areas such as the repeal of DACA.
“It’s about values and ideas,” Marlow said. “It’s not a cult of personality.”
Marlow also responded to reports that White House chief of Staff John Kelly is preventing Trump from seeing Breitbart News coverage, calling such an action “detrimental to the president.”
“The biggest advantage the president has is that he has better political instincts than anyone in the country,” Marlow said. “If he’s not allowed to have full information, how is he supposed to be able to use those instincts and assess the information and come to these conclusions that he comes to where he’s been vindicated time and again?”
Adam Shaw is a Breitbart News politics reporter based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY