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Breitbart exec Steve Bannon to back Morrisey in Senate race

By JAKE ZUCKERMAN

Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Steve Bannon, the controversial executive chairman of Breitbart news and a former White House adviser, has stepped behind the West Virginia attorney general’s U.S. Senate campaign.

W. Va. Attorney General
Patrick Morrisey

Bannon, former chief strategist for President Donald Trump, has offered his personal support to Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and interviewed him on Breitbart’s radio show Thursday.

Breitbart News also published two articles last week trumpeting Citizens United’s recent endorsement of Morrisey.

While a spokesman for Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., Morrisey’s main opponent in the Republican primary, downplayed the news, the attorney general’s campaign sounded off on the backing by the far-right, nationalist publication.

“Steve Bannon is a leader in the conservative movement and one of President Trump’s strongest supporters,” said Nachama Soloveichik, a spokeswoman for Morrisey. “When Steve Bannon speaks, people listen. Patrick has a proven track record of taking on Obama, defending coal and protecting West Virginia traditional values. If Steve Bannon wants to help spread Patrick’s conservative message, he can be a tremendous help and make a big impact on this race.”

In the radio interview between the two, Bannon praised Morrisey for his authenticity, contrasting him with Frank Luntz, a noted Republican pollster and messaging analyst.

“I’ll tell you what Pat [Morrisey], this is the reason that, at Breitbart News, we love you, we love you in the show, and I’ll tell you why: It’s no flash; it’s all grind. You’re a grinder,” Bannon said. “But I’ll tell you one thing, when Morrisey says he’s going to get something done, it gets done. It’s blocking and tackling.”

However, a spokesman for the Jenkins campaign said the delegate is unfazed by the support. He said if there were a bigger spread of candidates and a less-informed electorate, Bannon’s backing might hold some water. But given both Jenkins and Morrisey have been in the political mainstream for a while, being named supported by Breitbart isn’t as valuable as some make it out to be.

“[Morrisey and Jenkins] are pretty well known by West Virginia Republicans,” said Andy Sere, Jenkins’ campaign spokesman. “While, of course, many voters remain persuadable on either side, at the end of the day, this is not the kind of thing where voters are going to have to look elsewhere to help determine their votes.

“They are going to vote based upon what they have seen from these two guys over the last two years and based upon what they plan to do in the United States Senate. This is going to be a personal local vote that West Virginia Republicans are already fairly knowledgeable about each candidate and what they stand for.

“We are going to continue the education process based upon facts, and were going to win this race because of the support of West Virginians.”

Morrisey and Jenkins are campaigning for the seat held by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

With Bannon in the mix, some political onlookers are thinking about Alabama’s special primary election last week, when Judge Roy Moore, backed by the Breitbart executive, took down U.S. Sen. Luther Strange.

In that race, Bannon served as a surrogate for Moore. He framed the campaign as Moore, the byproduct of a grassroots uprising, running against the establishment-backed Strange. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Trump backed Strange, Moore trounced him by about 10 points.

Moore’s win came despite criticism for his anti-gay and anti-Muslim beliefs and removal from his seat as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for refusing to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the courtroom rotunda. He was later re-elected to his seat, only to be suspended for ordering state judges to defy federal court orders on same-sex marriage.

In West Virginia’s Senate race, Morrisey has depicted himself as the outside candidate taking down the establishment, borrowing from Trump’s lexicon in promises to “drain the swamp.”

That said, Morrisey offered support for Strange on Twitter in August.

“I’ve worked with @lutherstrange,” Morrisey said on Twitter. “He’s a good man and conservative. We fought in trenches v. Obama. Together, we’ll drain the swamp in DC.”

Reach Jake Zuckerman at [email protected], 304-348-4814 or follow @jake_zuckerman on Twitter.

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