Stephen Bannon, President Donald Trump's chief strategist prior to his August ousting, campaigned hard for Republican candidate Roy Moore in Alabama's special election. Bannon's exit from the White House brought with it a promise to push the president's agenda and fight the establishment.
In light of Moore's defeat by Democratic opponent Doug Jones Tuesday night, establishment Republicans are not lamenting their loss as one might expect but see the outcome as a blow to Bannon's attempt to oust incumbents he perceives to be at odds with the Trump's agenda.
"Before we get the results, I'd just like to thank Steve Bannon for showing us how to lose the reddest state in the union and Governor [Kay] Ivey for the opportunity to make this national embarrassment a reality," Josh Holmes, a former McConnell chief of staff, said in a tweet.
Senate Leadership Fund CEO Steven Law, the former McConnell chief of staff said in a statement that Tuesday's defeat was "a reminder that candidate quality matters," adding:
"Not only did Steve Bannon cost us a critical Senate seat in one of the most Republican states in the country, but he also dragged the President of the United States into his fiasco."
McConnell allies have said that Bannon and his anti-establishment agenda can expect to see donors refusing to back his preferred candidates and a stepped-up effort to suppress his influence over primary voters.
"He's toxic, and the biggest danger to the Trump agenda," said Billy Piper, a lobbyist and another former McConnell chief of staff.