Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) won’t seek re-election when his term comes to an end in January 2019. Support for Flake’s 2018 re-election bid had been waning in the polls following an ongoing bout of public name-calling between the Republican senator and President Trump.
Trump, who has tweeted his support of Flake’s primary opponent, Kelly Ward, called Flake “toxic” after the Arizonan criticized the president in his new book.
“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 Arizona Republic. “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.”
“This spell will pass, but not by next year,” Flake said, in reference to Trump and his faction of populists within the GOP, including former White House senior advisor Steve Bannon, who has been backing Ward.
Flake went from rabble rouser in House to centrist nice guy in Senate. Departure absolutely increases the chances GOP holds seat next year.
— Ben Domenech (@bdomenech) October 24, 2017
Flake’s announcement occurred amid tensions between Trump and several Republican senators — including Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, who announced last month he would not seek re-election either.
McConnell says after Flake finishes "We've just witnessed a speech from a very fine man," calls him a "team player"
— Jessica Taylor (@JessicaTaylor) October 24, 2017
In Alabama, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Roy Moore handily beat his primary opponent Luther Strange, whom both Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had endorsed.