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Steve Bannon Tapped As Keynote Speaker For California GOP Conference In Anaheim
Steve Bannon has been announced as a keynote speaker for the California GOP's semiannual convention, which will take place in Anaheim from October 20-22. He is scheduled to speak at the opening banquet for the convention.
Bannon had formerly served as President Trump's chief strategist. Prior to his work at the White House, he was a founder of right-wing media site Breitbart News and a Hollywood producer. He has since rejoined Breitbart since exiting the White House. Buzzfeed recently released a trove of emails that demonstrates Bannon encouraging Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulous to grow his media power and formally define the "alt-right," which Yiannopoulos did in conjunction with ideological input from known neo-Nazis and white nationalists.
Bannon's purported connection to anti-semitism and white nationalism reached a tipping point in the White House after the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, VA. President Trump's delayed condemnation of the white nationalist rally led White House staffers like former Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci to criticize the President's continued affiliation with Bannon. Bannon resigned from his White House post in August after John Kelly took over as Chief of Staff.
Bannon has since made plans to back candidates to challenge most GOP senators who are running in 2018, according to Bloomberg. He hopes to back candidates who will agree to vote against Mitch McConnell as Senate majority leader. This demonstrates a continued fracture within the GOP between establishment leaders and the Breitbart News wing of the party, for which Bannon has been a key leader.
Picking Bannon as a keynote speaker for the convention demonstrates the shaky footing the California GOP has stood on in recent years, as it continues to face a strong decline in state-wide power. The L.A. Times notes only 26% of registered voters in the state are registered as Republicans, and the party hasn't elected a statewide official since 2006. Orange County, where Anaheim is located, voted Republican in every presidential election since 1940 until it went blue in 2016. In studying the voting history of the state, the Times cites the CA GOP's decision to support Proposition 187, a controversial mid-90s ballot measure meant to deny public services to California residents who entered the U.S. illegally. California has the highest percentage of immigrants of any state in the U.S., so the California GOP's inability to regain the vote of immigrants in the state has had a substantial effect on the party's popularity.
LAist reached out to both the California GOP and Los Angeles County Republican Party for comment but did not hear back at time of publication.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) are also scheduled to speak at the Convention. Last November, McCarthy defended President Trump's decision to appoint Bannon as Chief Strategist. At the time, he said “The president has a right to select who he thinks is best to be able to move through." Cotton and Bannon will both appear as speakers at the Zionist Organization of America dinner in November.
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