For some time, Steve Bannon and his anti-establishment crew have been at war with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and any Republican too close to him. But now, a McConnell-aligned super PAC is throwing mud right back.
Over the past week, the Senate Leadership Fund has been using Twitter to go after Bannon and the news outlet he heads, Breitbart News.
It all started Monday when Danny Tarkanian, a pro-Trump candidate running to unseat Republican incumbent Sen. Dean Heller in Nevada tweeted a “McConnell Replacement Pledge” at Heller asking him to sign it.
Heller ignored the pledge that would have pitted him against the leader of his party who he has to work with every day. But the Senate Leadership Fund, who is supporting the senator, did not let it pass.
The super PAC tweeted a pledge of its own that, if signed, would have Tarkanian agreeing with accusations that Bannon is anti-Semitic.
The New York Daily News article containing the accusations that the leadership fund tweeted out was published during the 2016 presidential election and based off 2007 court filing. It said Bannon didn’t want his daughters attending the Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles nearly a decade ago because of the Jewish student population. Other outlets, such as NBC News, also reported on the filing.
Bannon spokeswoman Alexandra Preate denied the charges to NBC News at the time.
"At the time, Mr. Bannon never said anything like that and proudly sent the girls to Archer for their middle school and high school educations," Preate said.
“Our concern is that Steve Bannon has a long paper trail of controversial statements and associations that do not play well with general election audiences and viable candidates who are perceived as too close to him, will have to drag around his baggage next fall,” Senate Leadership Fund President and CEO Steven Law told USA TODAY.
If Tarkanian won Nevada’s GOP primary, he would be competing in a purple state that voted for Hillary Clinton for president and elected the first latina senator in 2016.
Law pointed to the 2018 Senate map which looks favorably on Republicans — 25 Democrats are up for re-election, 10 of whom are in states Trump won — and said that the party should be focusing its resources on taking down Democrats, not infighting.
“Steve Bannon has threatened a resource wasting war on conservative Republican incumbents who support the president’s agenda 95% or more of the time,” Law said. “We think every dollar that Republicans have to spend in primaries where there is already a strong pro-Tump incumbent is money that could be spent defeating anti-Trump Democratic senators.”
Things continued to snowball Thursday. Tarkanian responded with a call for Heller to denounce McConnell because the PAC is aligned with him.
“Instead of working on issues important to Americans, Mitch McConnell is spending money smearing Steve Bannon,” Tarkanian said. “He ran straight to DNC (Democratic National Committee) tactics and began promoting lies about Steve Bannon because he knows Bannon is helping to put in real conservatives — not obstructionists — in office.”
On Friday, the leadership fund tweeted out an article from Axios that said Breitbart had seen a 20% drop in traffic.