As Bannon plays kingmaker for extremist nominees, is Rep. Braun in line to be his candidate?

And would endorsement mean Congressman Messer or Congressman Rokita were McConnell’s candidate?

INDIANAPOLIS – Congressman Messer and Congressman Rokita are both tripping over themselves in the hopes of grabbing the same mantle of the conservative outsider next May that President Trump relied on in his own primary, but as Steve Bannon starts getting behind candidates in GOP primaries, it may actually be State Rep. Mike Braun who has his eye in Indiana.

The White House Advisor-turned-Breitbart Publisher has been making headlines in recent weeks for declaring a “season of war” against establishment Republicans in Senate races. Bannon has already recruited and anointed his preferred candidates in open primaries and against sitting Republican senators in multiple states.

In Indiana, however, it appears the early front-runner in Indiana for Bannon’s endorsement isn’t either of the two better-known Washington Republicans in the race, but Rep. Braun. According to Real Clear Politics, while multiple candidates have reached out to Bannon’s camp, Rep. Braun is the only one expected to have a meeting with Bannon thus far.

Rep. Braun already announced himself as a major candidate in the primary last week after raising $1 million in the third quarter, while his bespoke Super PACwas rolled out yesterday. And while Congressman Messer has deep lobbying connections and Washington ties, and Congressman Rokita has been an elected politician for 15 years, Rep. Braun’s business background would make him a more natural fit for Bannon’s support if he can stomach his hateful brand of politics.

But Rep. Braun winning Bannon’s endorsement would have knock-on effects for the other major candidates. Losing the endorsement would potentially force Congressmen Messer and Rokita towards McConnell and the establishment. Indeed, the two Washington Republicans may be losing out on Bannon’s support because they’re perceived to be too close to the Majority Leader. While bashing McConnell is par for the course for Republican senate candidates this year, Congressman Rokita punted instead of condemning him. Nor, for that matter, has Congressman Messer refused to back the Kentuckian.

“Dropping $800,000 of your own money as a down-payment for the Senate primary may not make a you a GOP front-runner, but taking an early lead in the Breitbart primary surely does. If Rep. Braun is willing to sign up for the devil’s bargain and sacrifice sanity and bipartisanship to embrace a hateful, destructive brand of politics, it may yet make him a primary favorite,” said Will Baskin-Gerwitz, Senior Media Strategist for the Indiana Democratic Party. “Bannon’s endorsement certainly won’t be won without a fight, however, and the closer Rep. Braun comes to securing his support, the closer he surely comes to becoming another target in the ‘nastiest race in politics.’”

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