The California Republican Party’s decision to invite right-wing provocateur and former presidential advisor Stephen K. Bannon to address its convention Friday created an unsettled concoction of excitement, dread and rubbernecking curiosity for GOP loyalists in the state.
The keynote speech in Anaheim is scheduled less than a week after Bannon, who runs the far-right website Breitbart News, called for “a season of war” on the GOP establishment. The threat was aimed squarely at Republicans in Washington whom Bannon considers disloyal to President Trump and the conservative agenda.
Bannon will appear before a California GOP desperate to reverse its deteriorating influence in a state where it has been losing members and where Republican victories in statewide political races have been nonexistent for a decade. His admirers hope his speech will invigorate the GOP base and lure Trump supporters outside of the party into its fold. But Republican critics worry he’ll undercut efforts to rekindle the party in a state where Trump and his policies remain widely unpopular.
Bannon tops a list of mostly Trump-aligned speakers set to address the convention, including Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton and Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro. State Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte said he isn’t worried about the stir Bannon might create among Republicans who have a distaste for him or the president.
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