The swamp is draining…One more RINO is not running for reelection. Senator Jeff Flake announced he will not run again today in a vindictive speech against President Trump and Republicans. Hey, the guy was even thinking of running as an Independent…what does that tell you? He’s NOT a conservative! He mentioned in his speech that he couldn’t support Trump’s policies on trade and immigration. Well, those two policies are what got Trump elected!
FLAKE WAS 26 POINTS DOWN IN THE POLLS:
The bombshell, which Flake, R-Ariz., detailed Tuesday afternoon on the Senate floor, will further roil Republican hopes of keeping the party’s 52-seat Senate majority in the midterm elections of Trump’s first term, when the president’s party historically loses seats in Congress.
It also likely will upend the race for Flake’s seat.
Flake, one of the Senate’s more prominent critics of President Donald Trump, has been struggling in the polls.
A GRANDSTANDING AND VINDICTIVE SPEECH:
He told The Arizona Republic ahead of his announcement that he has become convinced “there may not be a place for a Republican like me in the current Republican climate or the current Republican Party.”
Flake said he has not “soured on the Senate” and loves the institution, but that as a traditional, libertarian-leaning conservative Republican he is out of step with today’s Trump-dominated GOP.
“This spell will pass, but not by next year,” Flake said.
Among Republican primary voters, there’s overwhelming support for Trump’s positions and “behavior,” Flake said, and one of their top concerns is whether a candidate is with the president or against him. While Flake said he is with Trump on some issues, on other issues he is not. And Trump definitely views him as a foe, having denounced Flake publicly and called him “toxic” on Twitter.
“Here’s the bottom line: The path that I would have to travel to get the Republican nomination is a path I’m not willing to take, and that I can’t in good conscience take,” Flake told The Republic in a telephone interview. “It would require me to believe in positions I don’t hold on such issues as trade and immigration and it would require me to condone behavior that I cannot condone.”
LAURA INGRAHAM COULDN’T HAVE SAID IT BETTER:
Flake was for the disastrous Trans Pacific Partnership, NAFTA, open immig, blanket amnesty–and had Hillary won, he'd be happy today.
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) October 24, 2017
As of Sept. 30, Flake’s campaign had $3.4 million on hand. He has continued to raise money — as recently as Thursday, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice headlined a fundraiser for him in Arizona.
Flake said he has ruled out running as an independent rather than a Republican, saying he didn’t think that was a viable strategy. He also said he has “no intention” of making a presidential run.
SENATE RACE HEATS UP:
Kelli Ward, the former state senator from Lake Havasu City who lost her primary challenge last year against Sen. John McCain, has emerged this year as the top GOP alternative to Flake, but other names have been mentioned as possibilities: Arizona State Treasurer Jeff DeWit, former Arizona Republican Party Chairman Robert Graham and Arizona Board of Regents member Jay Heiler. Lesser-known Republicans Craig Brittain and Nicholas Tutora also have filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission and are running.
But Flake’s exit is sure to prompt bigger Arizona Republican names to take a fresh look at the GOP Senate race.
Steve Bannon, Trump’s controversial former White House strategist, has embraced Ward as part of his national “open revolt” against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and the GOP establishment. But other Republicans have warned that Ward is a weak candidate whose nomination would jeopardize GOP chances of holding Arizona’s Senate seat.
The winner of the Aug. 28 Republican primary could face Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., considered the front-runner in her the Democratic Senate primary.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., praised Flake as “one of the finest human beings I’ve met in politics
Flake publicly announced his intentions in a Senate floor speech that began around noon Arizona time.
In a copy of prepared remarks released to The Republic before his speech, Flake gave a blistering critique of the “coarseness of our national dialogue” that has defined the Trump era, saying it should never become accommodated as a “the new normal.”
READ MORE: ARIZONA CENTRAL