Sen. Jeff Flake stunned the political world on Tuesday with a sudden announcement that he was ending his bid for re-election in 2018.
In explaining his decision, Flake cited the dominance of Trump in the new Republican Party. The first-term Senator told The Arizona Republic that “there may not be a place for a Republican like me in the current Republican climate or the current Republican Party.”
Flake, long a favorite of small-government conservatives and libertarian-minded Republicans, was facing a stiff primary challenge from former state senator Kelli Ward, who enjoys the backing and support of alt-right leader Steve Bannon. After the upset victory of Roy Moore over Luther Strange in the Alabama GOP primary, Bannon has focused on taking out Senators he views as too opposed to the President and his agenda.
Why did Senator Jeff Flake decide not to run for re-election?
In a phone interview with the state’s largest newspaper, Flake explained his decision:
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. 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.
The move was an unexpected surprise, since Flake has been actively fundraising and campaigning vigorously, even as polls show him far behind. At the end of September, his campaign had almost three and half million dollars in cash-on-hand. In recent weeks he has hosted star-studded big-name fundraisers in both Arizona and DC.
Jeff Flake doesn’t recognize the Republican Party anymore
Flake’s next moves, and what will become of his campaign’s well-stocked warchest, remain to be seen. One possibility, is that he will formally renounce his affiliation as a Republican, but he has not yet taken that step. Some, including us here at The Jack News, have been encouraging the liberty-minded senator to seriously consider the Libertarian Party as an alternative to the Trump-dominated GOP.
Flake might not be running for re-election to the Senate, but he remains a possible contender in the 2020 presidential election, either in the Republican primary or as a third-party or independent candidate.
(Photo of U.S. Senator Jeff Flake speaking at the 2016 Arizona Manufacturing Summit at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, Arizona by Gage Skidmore)