Former chief White House strategist Steve Bannon, the wake of the GOP primary victory for his candidate, Roy Moore, recently shared a plane ride with Pennsylvania state Sen. Scott Wagner. Wagner is seeking to unseat Gov. Tom Wolf (D) in 2018. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Wagner said that he was energized by his conversation with Bannon. Bannon, who publishes Breitbart News, stumped for Wagner at a rally in St. Louis for conservative activists on Sunday.

Wagner, the owner of waste-hauling company, told the gathering of the Phyllis Schlafly Eagles that had spent “two hours on the plane with Steve Bannon. I was pretty emboldened before, but I can tell you right now I'm like 500 percent more emboldened.” At the rally, Wagner evinced dismay over both Democrats and Republicans. “In Pennsylvania the gloves are coming off, and the message is to hard-working Pennsylvanians: You’re being shafted by the corruption in Harrisburg. … I watched Republican leaders giving our governor a free pass, and you know what? Enough is enough.”

According to the Post-Gazette, Bannon said, “What Scott Wagner was talking a second ago — it’s not about ... the Democrats. We’ll get to them, and we’ll beat them like we beat Hillary Clinton. But the first thing we’ve got to get through is a corrupt and incompetent Republican establishment.” He said later, “They’re not going to give you your country back. You’re going to have to go and take it back and we’re going to start taking it back … in November when Scott Wagner runs in Pennsylvania."

It did not take long for Wolf’s campaign organization to react to Bannon’s presence in Pennsylvania. Wolf tweeted, “Send a message that Pennsylvania won’t tolerate candidates for governor who pal around with racists like Bannon --donate.” 

In response, Wagner’s campaign took on the racism charge. With a statement titled "Crying Racist…Again,." Wolf accused Wolf to seeking to distract voters away from Pennsylvania's budget impasse. Wagner, whose style has been compared to Donald Trump, wrote, "He sees the freight train coming. Of course he’s alarmed. Of course he cries 'racist.'" Wagner’s statement added, "Tom Wolf can call me whatever he wants — until we defeat him in November of 2018."

After Roy Moore’s victory in Alabama on Tuesday, Bannon credited “the people” for the win at the victory rally. He said that he would help Republican candidates he favors in other Senate races in 2018. In Colorado, he began recruiting candidates to run in the western states against Republican incumbents, including Arizona -- where incumbent Sen. Jeff Flake (R) faces re-election next year. In the southern states, Bannon has plans to meeting with potential candidates in Tennessee, where incumbent Sen. Bob Corker (R) recently announced that he will retire. In Mississippi, Sen. Roger Wicker (R) is also a target. In the Magnolia State, GOP challenger Chris McDaniel is likely to run against incumbent Wicker despite having failed to unseat Sen. Thad Cochrane (R) in 2014. 

McDaniel told CNN that Tuesday was a “huge win” for conservatives, adding that the “establishment stole our race in Mississippi” in 2014 by using “despicable dirty tricks.” He added that the “people of this country” are disgusted by the DC establishment and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). 



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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