Republican Senate hopeful Danny Tarkanian, who is challenging Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerNevada senators urge airlines to enact new policies after Las Vegas shooting Dems plan to make gun control an issue in Nevada GOP establishment doubts Bannon’s primary powers MORE (R-Nev.) for the GOP nomination in Nevada, ripped Sen. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGun proposal picks up GOP support Children’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Dems see Trump as potential ally on gun reform 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 FlakeAuthorizing military force is necessary, but insufficient Republicans jockey for position on immigration McCain, Flake warn against ‘politically-motivated penalties’ for Canadian defense firm 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 ClintonChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies DNC, RNC step up cyber protections Gun proposal picks up GOP support 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 CruzWhatever you think the Alabama special election means, you’re probably wrong This week: Congress gets ball rolling on tax reform Week ahead: Senators work toward deal to fix ObamaCare markets MORE (R-Texas), while McConnell is trying to protect the Republicans who make up his slim majority in the upper chamber.