Stephen Bannon — Democrats' unlikely new friend

The Democratic Party has an unlikely new friend. His name is Stephen Bannon.

You remember Bannon, don't you? He was the man who is widely credited with being the political Svengali that masterminded the upset victory of Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpPoll: Both parties need to do more on drug prices Senate approves .3 trillion spending bill, sending to Trump White House: Trump will delay steel tariffs for EU, six countries MORE.

Bannon told Trump to forget the ways of John McCainJohn Sidney McCainAfghanistan is our longest war ever and Congress has abandoned all responsibility Kremlin: ‘We have a long way to go’ before any breakthrough with US The GOP is Trump's party now MORE and Mitt Romney and go after those Republicans and independents who have been sitting out those general elections and incite them with real red-meat, nativist, "America first" rhetoric.

Included in the package would be not-too-subtle appeals to bring back the 1950s, when the idea of diversity and inclusion was not championed or, for that matter, even mentioned.


Trump took Bannon's advice and ran a campaign that would make George Wallace proud.

Once in the presidency, Trump has done nothing to unify the country. People or groups that oppose him, he shuns; those more to his liking, he goes after with venal, vicious and vindictive remarks. Trump is more than pleased to have his rock-solid 40 percent cult following.

The 60 percent majority that despises or is totally embarrassed by him he can just do without.

Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerSenate approves .3 trillion spending bill, sending to Trump Senate bracing for possible long weekend Overnight Defense: Trump replaces McMaster with Bolton | .3T omnibus awaits Senate vote | Bill gives Pentagon flexibility on spending | State approves B arms sale to Saudis MORE (R-Tenn.), a very traditional, establishment Republican, has had enough of this president. He speaks for many in his party who have remained silent.

He first said that Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonWhite House aides planned to announce McMaster with other departures: report Trump considered ousting Kelly and serving as his own chief of staff: report Trump replaces McMaster with Bolton as national security adviser MORE, Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Trump replaces McMaster with Bolton | .3T omnibus awaits Senate vote | Bill gives Pentagon flexibility on spending | State approves B arms sale to Saudis State Dept. announces B in weapons sales to Saudi Arabia Mattis: Saudi Arabia 'part of the solution' in Yemen civil war MORE and White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE "are those people that help separate our country from chaos."

Recently he raised the ante via Twitter.

And if that was not enough, Corker warned the country and the world that Trump's words and behavior are putting the United States "on the path to World War III."

All this brings us back to Bannon.

After Trump was actually elected, Bannon took up a perch in the White House itself. You might have noticed him prominently sitting in the front row while Trump was behind the podium. 

But it wasn't too long before he fell out of favor. He didn't get along with Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and had a particular disdain for chief economics adviser Gary Cohn.

Bannon was asked to leave. 

But instead of being bitter or vengeful toward Trump, he has anointed himself as Trump's defender in chief and protector of his base. Bannon wants to cleanse the Republican Party of elected officials he believes are not of his ilk.

They include Republican senators such as Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeOvernight Health Care: House passes .3T omnibus | Bill boosts funds for NIH, opioid treatment | Senators spar over ObamaCare fix | 'Right to Try' bill heads to the Senate The Hill's 12:30 Report Booker admits defeat in Capitol snowball fight with Flake MORE of Arizona, Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerMiss. governor names state's first female senator to replace retiring Cochran Co-founder of WhatsApp: 'It is time. #deletefacebook' Lawmakers zero in on Zuckerberg MORE of Mississippi and Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerRepublican drops Senate primary challenge to Heller after Trump's urging Three states where Dems can pick up Senate seats GOP senator: Justice Kennedy is going to retire this summer MORE of Nevada. These three are up for reelection next year.




Bannon is actually recruiting candidates to run against these three Republican incumbents. 

There are two Democratic incumbents who are up in 2018 and are considered highly vulnerable: Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinCoal miners' union to endorse Manchin Washington VIPs gather to celebrate Mark Penn's new book Overnight Defense: Senate sides with Trump on military role in Yemen | Dem vets push for new war authorization on Iraq anniversary | General says time isn't 'right' for space corps MORE of West Virginia and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyLawmakers introduce bipartisan bill to speed up infrastructure permitting 2020 Dems compete for top campaign operatives Koch-backed group launches six-figure ad buy against Heitkamp MORE of Indiana.

Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampKoch-backed group launches six-figure ad buy against Heitkamp Overnight Defense: Senate sides with Trump on military role in Yemen | Dem vets push for new war authorization on Iraq anniversary | General says time isn't 'right' for space corps Senate sides with Trump on providing Saudi military support MORE of North Dakota falls into the same category.

Trump won West Virginia by a whopping 36 points and Indiana by a huge 18 points. Bannon wants to field not "establishment Republicans" but Republicans who fit his ideological mode. Moderate, nonpolarizing electable types need not apply.

Very likely, if Bannon has his way, the Republican incumbents could be defeated in a "Bloody Bannon" primary (Arizona, Mississippi and Nevada). That could produce a contested general where Democrats would have a decent chance to pick up three seats.

Couple that with the Dems holding West Virginia and Indiana. Keep in mind both Independents caucus with the Democrats. 

Who knows, a political "Hail Mary" might arise soon, in which Roy Moore goes down to Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama this December. 

There is a scenario by which the machinations of the "Bannon purge" would not result in adding GOP seats, but the absolute opposite would occur.

Democrats pick up a minimum of three seats, possibly four. The Republican Senate becomes a Democratic Senate.

Bannon would be happy, at least: Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate approves .3 trillion spending bill, sending to Trump GOP senator threatened to hold up bill over provision to honor late political rival: report Paul: Shutting down government not my goal MORE (R-Ky.) would no longer be majority leader.

Then, at the first Wednesday lunch of 2018, the new Democratic majority, before diving into its salads, would be instructed to write warm thank-you notes to its benefactor: Stephen Bannon.

Mark Plotkin is a contributor to the BBC on American politics and a columnist for The Georgetowner. He previously worked as the political analyst for WAMU-FM, Washington’s NPR affiliate, and for WTOP-FM, Washington’s all-news radio station. He is a winner of the Edward R. Murrow Award for excellence in writing.