Conservatives and economic nationalist leaders are looking past the current dysfunction in Washington to a group of new and exciting young candidates throwing their hats in the ring nationwide to break the gridlock with midterm election victories.
This group of individuals, which some are calling “The League of Extraordinary Candidates,” is emerging nationally—a distinct slate of U.S. Senate and House candidates, as well as key gubernatorial contenders, all united in their focus on breaking the logjam in Congress. Movement leaders view establishment Republicans and Democrats alike as a force blocking, slow-walking, or stonewalling the agenda that President Donald J. Trump campaigned on, and aim to elect new voices by riding a new economic nationalist electoral wave in 2018 meant to mirror and surpass what happened in previous wave elections like 2010—which saw the rise of the Tea Party.
“We’re planning on building a broad anti-establishment coalition to replace the Republican Party of old with fresh new blood and fresh new ideas,” Andy Surabian, a senior adviser to the Great America Alliance and ex-White House aide, told Breitbart News.
Surabian worked alongside Stephen K. Bannon, the now former White House chief strategist, during their White House tenure and is now working with the Great America Alliance—a pro-Trump Super PAC run by ex-Ronald Reagan aide Ed Rollins that doubles as a fundraising powerhouse, having raised $30 million last year to help the president.
“The only thing the Republican establishment has succeeded in is clarifying to the American people that they don’t represent their interests,” Surabian added. “Their repeated failures to govern have only crystallized their lack of vision or backbone. The group of candidates we are looking to support in 2018 are all bound together in their agreement that the new Republican Party must be bold in their thinking and aggressive in their tactics.”
The movement that is emerging to back candidates nationally in these critical upcoming primaries and general elections—combined with the candidates themselves, almost a decentralized and loosely organized political party in and of itself—is filled with some of the strongest conservative voices and a broad spectrum across the movement.
“What I’m seeing is a lot of anger, frustration, and disappointment from voters around the country,” Jenny Beth Martin of Tea Party Patriots, a key grassroots organization, told Breitbart News. “They are angry at the lack of Republican leadership on Capitol Hill, and many think it’s time to ditch Mitch as the leader of the Senate. What I am beginning to remind people and let people know is I’m meeting incredible candidates around the country who are willing to take on the Republican status quo. I’ve seen candidates from Montana to Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee, who are ready to take on the status quo and be the leaders we need. It’s very tempting to just brush your hands and just say ‘I’m done with all of it.’ It’s very tempting because we’re so angry. If we do that, the swamp wins. Now is the time to dig in and fight even harder, and that’s what Tea Party Citizens Fund is prepared to do.”
Tony Perkins, the Family Research Council’s president, added that he expects a wave election next year unlike any conservatives have experienced before—even bigger than Trump’s historic win in 2016.
“The conservative tidal wave that carried Donald Trump into the White House may soon be eclipsed by what appears to be a conservative tsunami that threatens the establishment death grip on the U.S. Senate,” Perkins told Breitbart News.
The New York Times reported on Sunday morning that Blackwater founder Erik Prince is considering a U.S. Senate run in Wyoming against incumbent Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY).
“Erik Prince, the founder of the security contractor Blackwater, is seriously considering a Republican primary challenge for a Senate seat in Wyoming, potentially adding a high-profile contender to a fledgling drive to oust establishment lawmakers with insurgents in the mold of President Trump,” the Times’ Maggie Haberman, Glenn Thrush, and Jeremy Peters wrote. “Mr. Prince appears increasingly likely to challenge John Barrasso, a senior member of the Senate Republican leadership, according to people who have spoken to him in recent days. He has been urged to run next year by Stephen K. Bannon, who is leading the effort to shake up the Republican leadership with financial backing from the New York hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah. Over the weekend, Mr. Prince traveled to Wyoming with his family to explore ways to establish residency there, said one person who had spoken to him.”
The move comes in the wake of Judge Roy Moore’s historic victory in Alabama, where he defeated appointed Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) in a GOP primary runoff on Sept. 26 despite Strange’s dozens-of-millions-of-dollars financial advantage and backing of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. A large part of the focus of Moore’s campaign was on the failures of McConnell atop the Senate GOP conference, and while the two have spoken since Moore’s victory, it is unlikely Moore will ever be supportive of McConnell remaining in control.
Meanwhile, McConnell allies elsewhere are dropping like flies. In the hours leading up to Moore’s historic more-than-9-percent victory over Strange, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)—the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and reliable McConnell friend—announced his plans to retire. Establishment forces in Washington around McConnell desperately shifted their efforts to attempt to convince Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam—a wealthy self-funder—to jump into the race to replace Corker. McConnell and his pals failed, and now conservative anti-establishment Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) has emerged as the front-running candidate in Tennessee’s GOP senatorial primaries. McConnell’s allies continue to search for a new candidate to prop up in Tennessee against Blackburn but are thus far unable to find anyone viable. Trump, meanwhile, has taken to Twitter on Sunday morning to lambast Corker even more—something that further embarrasses McConnell for his failed leadership:
Senator Bob Corker "begged" me to endorse him for re-election in Tennessee. I said "NO" and he dropped out (said he could not win without…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 8, 2017
..my endorsement). He also wanted to be Secretary of State, I said "NO THANKS." He is also largely responsible for the horrendous Iran Deal!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 8, 2017
…Hence, I would fully expect Corker to be a negative voice and stand in the way of our great agenda. Didn't have the guts to run!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 8, 2017
Corker fired back with his own tweet, accusing Trump of being in need of supervision:
It's a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.
— Senator Bob Corker (@SenBobCorker) October 8, 2017
While this is emblematic of one of the more brutal fights out there, it’s not just Tennessee and Wyoming where McConnell and establishment Republicans are down on their luck. Weak incumbent Republicans face tough primaries in both Arizona and Nevada, where the vehemently anti-Trump Sens. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Dean Heller (R-NV) face conservative pro-Trump challengers next year. Danny Tarkanian, a businessman and son of the legendary UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, is running against Heller while former state senator Dr. Kelli Ward is running hard against Flake in Arizona. Both Tarkanian and Ward are polling ahead of the incumbent senators nearly a year from the election, something causing great alarm for the GOP establishment in Washington.
Then, moving on down to Mississippi, state senator Chris McDaniel—an economic nationalist firebrand—is likely to run against Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS). That race, like McDaniel’s burn-it-down campaign in 2014 against Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) where McDaniel actually won the primary with Republicans but Cochran only survived due to his campaign dirty tricks by paying Democrats in the black community to vote for him, is almost certain to put an outsized focus on McConnell’s failures—and Wicker’s connection to them—as well.
That does not even begin to address what may happen in other states. While GOP establishment forces may try to sell it as though they like Missouri’s attorney general Josh Hawley in the primary there, it’s conservatives who are more fired up about Hawley’s campaign with many top grassroots leaders telling Breitbart News privately in the past few days that the likely guy to face off against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) in November 2018 is a hardcore conservative who will not go along to get along like McConnell wants in Washington. In West Virginia, McConnell and his allies are pushing a former Democrat who supported Hillary Clinton for president in 2008, now Republican Rep. Evan Jenkins, while most other Republicans and conservatives are aligning behind the state’s attorney general Patrick Morrissey. In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott is eyeing a bid for U.S. Senate—something that would not bode well for the Majority Leader either—and conservatives are coalescing behind Matt Rosendale in Montana.
In Ohio, conservative Republican Josh Mandel—Ohio’s state treasurer—is emerging as the frontrunner to take on incumbent Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and in Wisconsin conservative outsider Kevin Nicholson is pulling ahead of establishment-backed state Sen. Leah Vukmir in the primaries ahead of a general election battle with incumbent Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). Anti-establishment Corey Stewart, who nearly won the GOP primary for governor in Virginia earlier this year, starts off this coming year as the clear frontrunner for the GOP nomination for U.S. senate in next year’s senate battle. And conservatives, Breitbart News can confirm, are looking for challengers to incumbent Republicans in Nebraska and Utah, where Sens. Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) are for now seeking reelection.
Conservatives are also, per the Times, looking at Maine for a potential strong challenger to incumbent Sen. Angus King (I-ME), an independent who caucuses with Democrats.
“Mr. Bannon is also hoping to persuade Ann LePage, the wife of Maine’s outspoken governor, Paul LePage, to run for the Republican nomination to challenge Senator Angus King, an independent who is up for re-election in 2018,” the Times’ Haberman, Thrush, and Peters wrote.
In other words, conservatives are considering a full slate of candidates nationally in open races and those with Democrat incumbents—and running or actively seeking out serious primary challengers for every GOP incumbent senator up for reelection next year except for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)—all part of an effort to wrest control of the Republican Party away from failed leaders and hand it to fresh blood. That doesn’t even mention House or gubernatorial races: On the House side of things, conservatives have their eyes on taking down many failed incumbent establishment Republicans and are also even looking at many open races. That picture, movement leaders say, is expected to come together more clearly in the days and weeks ahead.