WASHINGTON (JTA) — Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino magnate, will not back Steve Bannon’s planned challenges to establishment Republican senators.
“The Adelsons will not be supporting Steve Bannon’s efforts,” Andy Abboud, an Adelson spokesman, told Politico on Monday, referring to Adelson and his wife, Miriam. “They are supporting Mitch McConnell,” the Kentucky senator who is the Senate majority leader, “100 percent. For anyone to infer anything otherwise is wrong.”
About a month ago, Adelson met with Bannon in Washington, D.C.
Bannon, President Donald Trump’s strategic adviser from January to August, had praised Adelson lavishly at a gala dinner Sunday organized by the Zionist Organization of America, one of an array of right-wing pro-Israel groups heavily backed by Adelson. Adelson was not present at the dinner.
Bannon has since returned to his old job helming Breitbart News. He remains close to the president and has vowed to mount primary challenges to all but one incumbent Republican in the 2018 midterm elections, as well as to establishment picks in the 25 races where Republicans will challenge Democrats. Eight Republicans are up for re-election. Bannon’s exception among the incumbents is Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
The announcement comes as Roy Moore, the Republican nominee in a special election next month for Alabama’s Senate seat, is engulfed in allegations that he sexually assaulted teenagers nearly 40 years ago when he was in his 30s. Bannon had backed Moore against McConnell’s pick, Sen. Luther Strange.
Jewish leaders whom Adelson is close to last month excoriated McConnell when his former aides mounted a campaign against Bannon, alleging that he was an anti-Semite and a bigot.