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Republicans vent fury at Bannon for Alabama election defeat

WASHINGTON As Democrats revelled in a stunning Senate win in Alabama, mainstream Republicans wasted no time in blaming a powerful strategist for the party's disastrous political setback: anti-establishment rabble-rouser Steve Bannon.

Republicans heaped scorn on the former White House adviser, upbraiding him for backing such a tainted candidate in Mr Roy Moore that the party lost a Senate seat from a state that US President Donald Mr Trump won last year in a landslide.

Mr Bannon, 64, has no shortage of enemies within the party, as concerns mount that his brand of populist rebellion was stoking a battle for the party's soul.

'AGENDA'

Alabama's Republican Senator Richard Shelby, who refused to support Mr Moore, told AFP he hoped Mr Bannon would bow out of politics, but did not think he would. He said Mr Bannon is "an activist (with) an agenda, but he doesn't speak for me or mainstream Republicans".

After Mr Moore's embarrassing loss, Representative Peter King, a New York Republican, vented his frustration, saying Mr Bannon looked "like some dishevelled drunk who wandered on to the political stage", and "is not the type of person we need in politics".

As the battle plays out in states including Nevada, Arizona and Kentucky, Mr John Geer, who chairs Vanderbilt University's political science department, said of Mr Bannon: "He is willing to lose some elections to leave his stamp on the party."

Mr Geer added: "He might get control of the party, but in so doing he will hand majorities to the Democrats in Congress. That is a trade-off many Republicans are not willing to make, but Mr Bannon is." - AFP

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