President Donald Trump reportedly called three Republican senators this past week, according to Politico, where he expressed support for their 2018 re-election campaigns. Trump called Sens. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Deb Fischer of Nebraska, and John Barrasso of Wyoming.
News of the phone calls comes as Breitbart’s Steve Bannon, formerly senior counselor to the president, continues his post-White House crusade against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Republican establishment. Bannon, who sees himself as a more effective advocate for the president from outside 1600 Penn. The three senators, while establishment figures, have been generally supportive of the president.
Fischer, who had originally called on Trump to quit the race for the presidency following the release of the Access Hollywood tape, reversed that that call just three days later, saying that she would vote for Trump. While Bannon has included Fischer on his list of targets, Nebraska conservatives were apparently baffled by that decision. Barrasso, another sitting Republican senator named by Bannon as a potential target, was luke-warm on Trump, but never called on him to drop off the 2016 ticket. Wicker remained supportive of the president throughout the post-video media firestorm just weeks before the election.
While some have questioned Bannon’s relationship with the president following his exit from the White House in August, Trump’s camp, at least publicly, says Bannon plans to remain a “loyal soldier,” prepared to defend the president’s agenda.
“I do believe that Steve Bannon is going to be a very loyal soldier to the President as it relates to his agenda from the outside now,” David Bossie, a former Deputy Campaign Manager on the Trump 2016 team, told Fox News soon after Bannon’s departure.
While Fischer, Barrasso and Wicker may be breathing a sigh of relief, sitting GOP Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Dean Heller of Nevada prepare for grueling primaries against aggressively pro-Trump challengers looking to capture the president’s 2016 populist and anti-establishment wave of frustrated Americans.
Flake, a very public critic of the president, is set to face Dr. Kelli Ward, a firebrand conservative suddenly elevated into the national foray after Bannon endorsed Ward at a campaign rally in Scottsdale, Ariz. “It’s going to be their money versus your money,” Bannon said, asserting that the party was rightfully in “open revolt.”
Heller, another strong critic of the president, is set to face a multi-front primary challenge, including Danny Tarkanian, a longtime unsuccessful candidate for statewide office. If Heller survives the primary, he still faces a daunting general election in a state that swung for Hillary Clinton by 2 points last November.
Republicans, whether it’s the White House, Bannon, or McConnell, want to flip Democratic Party-held seats in states that voted for Trump, including Michigan, where Trump became the first Republican presidential candidate to win the state since 1988.
Bannon is reportedly keeping in touch with Robert Ritchie, aka Kid Rock, but a closer look reveals the president’s influence in the Wolverine State. While Kid Rock continues to excite many on the Trump-wing, another candidate is positioning himself as a strong supporter of the president’s agenda.
37-year old Iraq war combat veteran and Detroit businessman, John James, told the Detroit News that he “supports Trump 2,000 percent.” James, still a relatively unknown, is likely positioning himself with the president in anticipation of Republican Rep. Fred Upton, a 30-year Congressman from the state’s west side, entrance into the primary. Upton, a moderate House member that has served as chair of the Energy and Commerce committee, would appear to be a front runner to take on popular Democrat Sen. Debbie Stabenow, but for one concern, Upton urged Trump to quit the presidential race following the release of the Access Hollywood Tape.
\Upton is apparently rethinking his bid for senate, concerned that Bannon and the anti-establishment wing, will stifle any shot at the seat. The hesitation of Upton is a prime of example of the larger decision making process for longtime Republican members of Congress. The Trump factor appears to be very real, and the future of the Republican Party may be at stake.
Editors note: Authored by a Unbiased America contributor