When Steve Bannon was in the White House, President Donald Trump made it abundantly clear that he was the real strategist and his chief strategist, Bannon, was only secondary.
“I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late… I’m my own strategist and it wasn’t like I was going to change strategies because I was facing crooked Hillary,” Trump said in an interview earlier this year.
However, Bannon’s maneuvers since leaving the White House and returning to his post as Executive Director of Breitbart News show that he may have been the brains of the operation the entire time. He helped push Roy Moore to victory in the Alabama Senate primary over his establishment opponent, Luther Strange, a Trump-endorsed favorite of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. From there, Bannon jetted to Colorado to meet with Tom Tancredo, an immigration hawk poised for another run for the governorship.
Bannon has even thrown his hat into the ring in the race for Pennsylvania governor. He is endorsing Scott Wagner, a businessman and Trump supporter without any ties to the long-standing political machines of the Keystone State. He calls the Pennsylvania capital, Harrisburg, a “real swamp.”
Bannon and Wagner were together at an event last week in St. Louis, MO thrown by the Phyllis Schlafly Eagles, eponymously founded by the late Eagle Forum maven who supported Trump’s presidential run as the final act of her storied and matchless career as a conservative activist. There, the two men plotted the future of the populist anti-establishment movement that was launched by Trump but perfected by Bannon. The exchange left Wagner feeling “500 percent more emboldened.”
“Tomorrow in Pennsylvania the gloves are coming off and the message is, `The hardworking Pennsylvanians, you’re being shafted by the corruption in Harrisburg, OK?“’ Wagner said. “Career politicians, Democrat and Republican. But I now see firsthand serving in the Senate. We now have a veto-proof majority, we went to 34. I watched Republican leaders giving our governor a free pass, and you know what? Enough is enough.”
If Wagner can defy the odds and recreate Trump’s magic in a swing state that showed up big for the Donald last November, it may be time to call Steve Bannon the ultimate kingmaker of the modern conservative movement.