Republican Senate hopeful Danny Tarkanian, who is challenging Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerGOP Senate hopeful rips McConnell for ‘smearing’ conservatives Overnight Cybersecurity: Lawmakers grill Trump officials over Kaspersky threat | Trump camp distances itself from data firm | What we know about Bad Rabbit | Conservative groups back data privacy bill Right-leaning groups back international data privacy bill MORE (R-Nev.) for the GOP nomination in Nevada, ripped Sen. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP Senate hopeful rips McConnell for ‘smearing’ conservatives Overnight Finance: House adopts Senate budget, taking step to tax reform | GOP worries Trump feuds will endanger tax plan | Trump talks NAFTA withdrawal with senators | Treasury calls for looser oversight of insurers Trump’s Senate oversight holiday must end MORE (R-Ky.) on Thursday for “smearing” conservatives amid a bitter back-and-forth between the Senate majority leader and Breitbart News executive Stephen Bannon.
Tarkanian’s comments came in response to an attack leveled by the Senate Leadership Fund, an influential outside group with close ties to McConnell, which accused Bannon a day earlier of anti-Semitism.
The volley is part of an escalating feud between Bannon-backed insurgent candidates and the GOP incumbents who McConnell is seeking to protect.
Tarkanian said in a statement that McConnell’s allies are “running scared” after Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeGOP Senate hopeful rips McConnell for ‘smearing’ conservatives Dallas Morning News: Cornyn ‘betrays’ GOP by backing Roy Moore Michael Steele: Trump’s feud between Flake and others is personal, not political MORE (R-Ariz.) announced he would retire from the Senate after one term. Flake faced a tough path to reelection and faced a challenge from another Bannon-backed candidate in Arizona.
He said McConnell and his allies are fearful because Bannon is “helping put real conservatives — not obstructionists — in office.”
“McConnell’s smear tactic is borrowed right out of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBlumenthal: Trump-tied data firm reaching out to WikiLeaks ‘significant’ Tillerson eliminates key State Department sanctions office: report Intel Dem: What’s in dossier more important than who paid for it MORE’s playbook and they clearly fail to realize that Americans are sick of it,” Tarkanian said.
“I call on McConnell to get back to work and I denounce the smearing of conservatives,” he continued. “We don’t tolerate it on our school playgrounds and we shouldn’t tolerate it from our elected officials. I call on ‘DC’ Dean Heller to join me in publicly denouncing McConnell’s smear campaign.”
Tarkanian had been pressuring Heller to sign a petition saying he would not support McConnell as majority leader.
That effort provoked a response from the Senate Leadership Fund, which was started by allies of McConnell and aims to reelect incumbent Republican senator.
— Senate Ldshp Fund (@Senate_Fund) October 25, 2017
Bannon’s allies say they’re used to being called racists by Democrats but are furious to see it coming from Republicans.
The Senate Leadership Fund’s allegations stem from a 2007 court filing between Bannon and his then-wife, Mary Louise Piccard, who claimed in documents that he made anti-Semitic comments while looking at schools for his daughters.
Bannon denied the report at the time and his adviser this week called the allegations “desperate and false personal attacks” that are “further proof that McConnell Inc. is imploding in front of our very eyes.”
The war between Bannon and McConnell has escalated in recent days.
Bannon has vowed to field a primary challenger for every Republican running for Senate except for Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGOP Senate hopeful rips McConnell for ‘smearing’ conservatives Dallas Morning News: Cornyn ‘betrays’ GOP by backing Roy Moore GOP senators ask Trump for meeting on biofuels mandate MORE (R-Texas), while McConnell is trying to protect the Republicans who make up his slim majority in the upper chamber.