“It’s unbelievable Josh Hawley is trying to convince Steve Bannon that he isn’t an establishment candidate, when Hawley has refused to denounce his mentor Jack Danforth’s criticism of President Trump and just recently filed a joint fundraising committee with the DC Republican establishment,” said Missouri Democratic Party Communications Director Meira Bernstein. Missourians aren’t the only ones Hawley is trying to mislead — and it’s clear by his efforts to woo Bannon that Hawley is worried about his chances in an increasingly crowded primary.”
…Hawley and Bannon spoke after the Breitbart executive played a role in helping controversial candidate Roy Moore win the Alabama primary for Senate last month. Moore’s decisive defeat of incumbent Sen. Luther Strange, who had been backed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, drove speculation that Bannon could wade into other Republican primaries, including in Missouri.
“They have some mutual friends … donors who know both of them,” the Republican close to Hawley said. The call was meant to assure Bannon that “Josh is a good conservative” and “one of us,” rather than an establishment candidate.
…Hawley also has faced pressure from conservatives in Missouri after his most vocal political backer, former U.S. Sen. Jack Danforth, wrote an op-ed blasting President Donald Trump and urging fellow Republicans to cut ties with the president. Hawley also skipped attending Trump’s speech in Missouri in late August because of a previously scheduled family vacation.
Hawley has refused to comment on Danforth’s criticism of the president. Former Missouri Republican chair and CNN contributor Ed Martin has repeatedly said Hawley should not run against McCaskill if he won’t denounce Danforth.
…Danforth, who represented Missouri in the Senate for two decades and led the effort to recruit Hawley to the race, said he was unaware of any communications between Hawley and Bannon.
“I hope he doesn’t weigh in on behalf of Hawley. This is news to me,” Danforth said in a phone call.
“I can’t imagine that Hawley would have anything in common with Bannon. Hawley has a very broad appeal, but that that’s the first I’ve heard of that.”[…]
The Republican establishment pick to take on Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill quietly reached out to former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon last week — the latest step taken by concerned Republicans to counter Bannon’s threats to wreak havoc across the Senate landscape in 2018.
Two Republican sources said Attorney General Josh Hawley…called Bannon late last week, after The New York Times reported the Breitbart leader was targeting Hawley for defeat in Missouri’s GOP Senate primary…
Hawley’s allies in Missouri are worried Bannon — who is recruiting challengers to incumbent Republican senators around the country — could back former state GOP chair Ed Martin, now a prominent Trump surrogate, in a primary. Martin said in a text message that he was still looking at a run.
“We need a pro-Trump, fearless conservative,” he wrote. “Not more DC swampy consultant-driven candidates because they lose.”
…Establishment Republicans still aren’t sure what to think of Bannon’s quest to upset incumbent GOP senators and the party’s favored candidates to take on Democrats…