VA07: Alt-Right antagonist Steve Bannon to campaign for Dave Brat
“This visit from the mastermind of Dave Brat’s 2014 campaign, Alt-Right propagandist Stephen K. Bannon, shows just how much Brat’s reelection campaign is failing. Virginians have had enough of the Bannons, Brats, Stewarts, and Trumps. It is time for leadership, unity and results — not more divisiveness and fear-mongering,” said DPVA Communications Director Jake Rubenstein
Former Trump strategist Bannon to appear for Rep. Brat in polarized Va. district
Laura Vozzella, Washington Post
Stephen K. Bannon will try to whip up support for Rep. Dave Brat (R) this weekend in central Virginia, a district where ties to President Trump’s controversial former chief strategist could cut both ways.
Bannon, who grew to prominence as leader of the hard-right Breitbart News Network, said he will screen a pro-Trump movie he has made — “Trump @War” — with the hope of inspiring the president’s fans to help Brat get out the vote in the final days before Tuesday’s election.
The latest poll shows Brat, a former economics professor who won the seat four years ago after pulling off a shocking primary upset over then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, virtually tied with Democrat Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA agent, in the race for the 7th Congressional District.
“I know how to get the base jacked up, and that’s what needs to be done here,” Bannon, who announced his plans to come to Virginia on the “John Fredericks Show” on Tuesday, said afterward in an interview with The Washington Post.
Bannon has been traveling to numerous congressional battlegrounds with his movie, appearing under the auspices of a nonprofit that cannot by law coordinate with political campaigns. He said candidates are welcome to appear, but they must pay the price of admission, if there is one. Details for his visit to central Virginia were still being worked out.
Bannon said he might also appear in Virginia’s 2nd District, in the Virginia Beach area, where Rep. Scott W. Taylor (R) faces Democrat Elaine Luria.
Brat campaign spokeswoman Katey Price did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Taylor spokesman Scott Weldon said he knew nothing about Bannon’s plans.
“This visit from the mastermind of Dave Brat’s 2014 campaign, Alt-Right propagandist Stephen K. Bannon, shows just how much Brat’s reelection campaign is failing,” Jake Rubenstein, a spokesman for the Democratic Party of Virginia, said in a email. “Virginians have had enough of the Bannons and Brats. It is time for leadership, unity and results — not more divisiveness and fear-mongering.”
Bannon helped Breitbart become an influential voice for anti-establishment Republicans, a faction that critics said courted white nationalists. Bannon once described Breitbart as “the platform for the alt-right,” a phrase that became associated with white separatism, anti-Semitism and racism. Breitbart’s editors insisted that the site did not endorse those views.
Bannon left Breitbart to become Trump’s campaign manager in August 2016 and went on to serve as his chief strategist in the White House. He was forced out after a year. He rejoined Breitbart after that but left in January amid an uproar over comments he made about Trump and his family to author Michael Wolff for his book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.”
Brat cruised to a 15-point reelection win two years ago but faces a strong challenger in Spanberger, a former federal law enforcement agent and CIA operative whose résumé may appeal to swing voters and moderate Republicans turned off by Trump.
They are vying to represent a sprawling district that is a mix of Richmond suburbs and rural areas stretching from Culpeper to Nottoway County in the southern part of the state. Trump, who has endorsed Brat, is popular in the rural areas, but he has greatly energized Democrats in the suburbs.
Republican strength in the district has been waning, with victory margins shrinking. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney won the 7th District by 11 percentage points in 2012. Trump won it by six points in 2016. In the 2017 governor’s race, Republican Ed Gillespie beat Democrat Ralph Northam there by less than four points.