Republican Senators are beginning to push back against former White House Chief of Staff Steve Bannon, who’s begun waging a campaign against some of the conservatives’ incumbent candidates.
Politico reports that several interviewed senators said they were concerned Bannon’s efforts to spearhead a Republican uprising could cost the GOP its slim majority in the Senate. With next year’s midterm elections bearing down, many politicians have already had to deal with banishing opposition attacks.
Meddling from Bannon, they said, could complicate or even compromise their reelection efforts.
“I wish he’d focus on Democrats,” said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, who is the majority whip and ‘two-time chairman of the party’s Senate campaign arm.’
“I think it certainly doesn’t make it any easier and it just seems so counterproductive,” bemoaned Cornyn in a Monday interview, referring to Bannon’s attacks on members of his own party.
Politico also spoke to Republican Sen. John Thune (SD), who, when asked if Bannon’s coverage could make it difficult for conservatives to keep their majority in Congress, said: “It does.”
“It’s not particularly productive,” said Thune, who’s the third highest-ranking Republican in the Senate. “We ought to stay focused on the task at hand, and that’s getting some results for the American people and then seeing what we can do to gain seats.”
An analysis from Politico deems Bannon’s threats as being ‘especially pungent,’ considering that conservative challengers against Republican incumbents are one of a few ways Democrats could reclaim a majority in the Senate.
Bannon isn’t the only threat facing the Republican Party, either.
President Donald Trump has also been active in calling out and criticizing certain conservatives in the Senate, including Sens. John Flake, Bob Cork (TN) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY).
Cornyn said he recommends and hopes that Bannon and Trump “focus on growing our number of Republicans in the Senate rather than diminishing it.”
“The President’s going to need as many friendly faces around here as he can get in order to get things done,” he said. “I realize that bipartisanship is important, but he shouldn’t mistake a smile for support when it really counts.”
Cornyn’s comments were partially referring to a surprising bout of support from President Trump for Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, with whom he struck a deal last week without the knowledge of top-ranking Republicans like the House’s Paul Ryan or McConnell.