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Outsider Erik Prince Looking At Challenging Establishment Senator John Barrasso

Erik Prince, the founder of the security contractor Blackwater, is seriously considering challenging incumbent Senator John Barrasso in the upcoming Wyoming Republican Senate Primary Election.

Multiple media sources, including the New York Times, say Prince appears increasingly likely to challenge John Barrasso, a senior member of the Senate Republican leadership, according to people who have spoken to Erik Princehim in recent days. He has been urged to run next year by Stephen K. Bannon, who is leading an effort to shake up the Republican leadership.

Establishment Republicans interviewed by the New York Times have privately said that a primary challenge against a lawmaker like Barrasso is the kind they fear most: an out-of-the-blue run by an outsider from the right against a senator who talks a good game on the conservative agenda, but when the chips are down, always takes a knee to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

According to the New York Times, Erik Prince’s interest may have been heightened by the primary victory of Judge Roy Moore, a principled limited government constitutional conservative, who defeated appointed incumbent Senator Luther Strange, a McConnell ally, in the recent Alabama Republican primary. Allies of McConnell spent tens of millions of dollars defending Strange, but Judge Moore won by nine percentage points.

New York Times writers Jeremy W. Peters, Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush see the Prince campaign, if it materializes, as just the kind of race that Steve Bannon hopes to replicate across the country. With financing from the hedge fund fortune of the Mercer family and their network of other conservative donors, Bannon is looking to build a political coalition that recruits people to run against Republican incumbents from Maine to Montana.

According to Peters, Haberman and Thrush, Bannon has set his sights most immediately on states like Arizona, Nevada and Mississippi, where he believes a more populist, maverick-style conservative could threaten a sitting Republican senator. But he is also eyeing candidates to run for the Senate in Tennessee, where the retirement of Bob Corker leaves an opening, and in Nebraska, where he believes that the mostly invisible Senator Deb Fisher, a first-term Republican, is vulnerable.

Peters, Haberman and Thrush claim that, in meeting with potential candidates, Bannon has emphasized one credential above all else, people who have spoken with him said. He wants to ensure they will commit to voting against Mitch McConnell for Republican leader.

This is a goal and a credential we heartily endorse.

Erik Prince’s views on the larger conservative agenda are unknown, and some have described him as a libertarian. However, Peters, Haberman and Thrush report that, in 1992, he supported Pat Buchanan’s outsider run for president against incumbent establishment Republican George H.W. Bush.

Supporting Buchanan against the incumbent president was a gutsy principled move, albeit one doomed to failure, but showed Erik Prince has the boat-rocker’s instinct for combat against long odds which is what’s required to win primaries against establishment incumbents.

Prince is a former Navy SEAL and we also like the idea of having someone who understands the war Islam has declared on the West serving in the United States Senate, where a newly elected Senator Prince could shore-up Senator Tom Cotton, Senator Ted Cruz and the few other lonely voices who have fought the battle against those, like Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who regularly side with Islamists against America and the West.

While Erik Prince’s views on the conservative agenda need to be explored further before we can make any kind of endorsement, we do know a lot of things we don’t like about Senator Barrasso, and first among them is his crony relationship with Mitch McConnell.

While most people outside the Beltway may not remember this, we recall how McConnell used Barrasso to keep principled limited government constitutional conservative Senator Mike Lee of Utah out of the Senate Republican leadership.

Having already served three terms, Barrasso was term limited as Chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, but McConnell granted him an unprecedented waiver to serve a fourth term, thereby guaranteeing that the Senate’s GOP leadership would continue to be made up entirely of establishment Republicans until at least 2019.

We also recall that back in 2013 Barrasso caved-in and voted for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s sellout to President Obama to raise the debt ceiling and fund ObamaCare. And he’s done the same every year voting for the last-minute budget train wrecks McConnell keeps engineering to assure that government, spending and the deficit keep growing and liberty keeps receding.

To run for the Senate, Erik Prince would need to establish residency in Wyoming. According to the Associated Press Prince lives in Middleburg, Va., but his family owns a large ranch in the state’s Wapiti Valley and he has had an address in the area previously, so this does not appear to be a huge technical hurdle.

We hope Erik Prince will make the rounds of conservative leaders and sketch out where he stands on the conservative agenda. Running against an incumbent, even a colorless establishment non-entity like John Barrasso won’t be easy with the millions of dollars that McConnell and his crony money machine will undoubtedly pour into the race, but if he decides to get in, Erik Prince is exactly the kind of candidate that could mount a successful campaign based on the conservative – populist Trump agenda. We look forward to learning more about Erik Prince and his campaign.

CHQ Editor George Rasley is a veteran of over 300 political campaigns, including every Republican presidential campaign from 1976 to 2008. He served as lead advance representative for Governor Sarah Palin in 2008 and has served as a staff member, consultant or advance representative for some of America's most recognized conservative Republican political figures, including President Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. He served in policy and communications positions on the House and Senate staff, and during the George H.W. Bush administration he served on the White House staff of Vice President Dan Quayle.

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