Republican Ed Gillespie’s loss in the Virginia gubernatorial race Tuesday night left some Virginia Republicans concerned about the party’s future, but Steve Bannon insisted Wednesday night that Democratic gains in Virginia don’t spell trouble for the GOP as a whole.
“Virginia, because of northern Virginia, is really not a purple state anymore. It’s a blue state,” Bannon told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “When Donald Trump wins 304 electoral votes and wins states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa, and comes in one point in Minnesota, when he loses Virginia by five points, it shows you how blue it is.”
Bannon said he never had “confidence” that Trump would win in Virginia in the 2016 election.
Though he suggested that a Republican didn’t have a chance of winning a statewide vote in Virginia, Bannon also argued that Gillespie would have performed better had he embraced Trump more. He said that Corey Stewart, a Trump-aligned Virginia Republican who lost to Gillespie in the gubernatorial primary, would have had a better shot.
“What we had is an establishment candidate. Ed Gillespie won a primary, a very hard-fought primary, versus Cory Stewart, and then really didn’t try to embrace President Trump or really the Trump program until very late when he just kind of basically talked about some of the issues, which I thought he should try to do more of,” Bannon told Hannity, adding that Gillespie never campaigned with Trump or Stewart.
“Gillespie needed to embrace Trump much more,” Bannon added later.