WASHINGTON, D.C., - The man who ran President Donald Trump's election campaign now says he wants to take on Utah Senator Orrin Hatch.
Steve Bannon, former White House Chief Strategist is now using his influence to go after incumbent Republican Senators, and he thinks he has momentum.
Bannon successfully backed newly elected Alabama Senator Roy Moore, a religious conservative who defeated establishment favorite Luther Strange.
Quin Monson, Political Science Associate Professor at Brigham Young University, said Bannon's success in Alabama may mean little in Utah.
"Utah is interesting because we're pretty Republican and we're quite conservative, but we've never been fully on board with President Trump," Monson said, noting the Trump received about 20 percent fewer votes in Utah than is typical for a Republican Candidate.
Bannon's influence is bolstered by financial support from Charles Meyer, a conservative New York billionaire. Bannon also runs Breitbart.com, a conservative website which is seen as a primary source of news for President Trump's political base.
Hatch spokesman Matt Whitlock issued a statement suggesting Bannon is picking the wrong fight if he targets Hatch. Whitlock said:
"Last week Senator Hatch was named the most effective member of the United States Senate, and found to be six times more effective than the average Senator in accomplishing his legislative agenda. While Washington is stuck in divisive gridlock, Senator Hatch is one of the few people in Washington continuing to deliver results for his constituents. Senator Hatch has not made a final decision regarding whether to continue serving after 2018, but in the end, Utahns will make that determination, not Washington. Should he decide to run again, he will win."
Along with Hatch, Bannon has signaled he'll target other Western politicians including Wyoming Senator John Barasso, who is part of the Republican Senate Leadership as Chair of the Policy Committee. Breitbart.com has promoted Erik Prince, the founder of the Private Security firm Blackwater as a potential challenger in Wyoming. Bannon also opposed Arizona Senator Jeff Flake.
Recent polls suggest Hatch is vulnerable to a challenge within the Republican Party.