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September 29, 2017

Steve Bannon enters Pennsylvania politics

The former White House adviser and current Breitbart head backs Scott Wagner for governor

Steve Bannon has made his way into the Keystone State.

The former head of Breitbart, turned Donald Trump campaign adviser, turned White House chief strategist, turned back to Breitbart head, seems to be wielding his influential hand in Pennsylvania's gubernatorial race.

Bannon recently shared a plane ride with state Sen. Scott Wagner, the Republican trying to unseat incumbent Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf in 2018. Wagner said their conversation left him "emboldened," according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and the two appeared at a gathering of conservative activists, where Bannon stumped for Wagner. Per the newspaper:

“What Scott Wagner was talking a second ago — it’s not about ... the Democrats. We’ll get to them, and we’ll beat them like we beat Hillary Clinton. But the first thing we’ve got to get through is a corrupt and incompetent Republican establishment.”

“They’re not going to give you your country back,” he said later. “You’re going to have to go and take it back and we’re going to start taking it back … in November when Scott Wagner runs in Pennsylvania."

On paper, the pairing is perfect. Wagner, a York County conservative who owns waste and trucking companies, has been compared to Trump for his brash and brazen style, tussling with opposition trackers and trashing John Oliver's "super liberal viewers" after the HBO host called him an "idiot" for his views on climate change.

Bannon, despite what he says, is considered one of the faces of the alt-right movement. His brand of conservatism pushes against so-called Washington elites and the Republican establishment, and he was out at the White House after just seven months after butting heads with other advisers and the president himself. He just got done backing a successful Alabama runoff campaign for Senate in which his guy, far-right firebrand Roy Moore, beat Luther Strange, who had the support of Trump and establishment Republicans.

It did not take long for Wolf's re-election campaign to pounce on Wagner's meeting with the controversial Bannon, who has been accused of racism and discriminatory views for his and Breitbart's positions on women's issues, Muslims and other groups. Wolf's campaign Twitter account posted a link to donate to his re-election bid with a picture of Bannon, labeling him a racist.

Wagner's campaign responded Friday with a statement titled "Crying Racist…Again." The release only mentions Bannon once but accuses Wolf of trying to turn the attention away from Pennsylvania's continuing budget impasse, which may be nearing an end.

"He sees the freight train coming. Of course he’s alarmed. Of course he cries 'racist,'" Wagner’s statement read. "Tom Wolf can call me whatever he wants — until we defeat him in November of 2018."