One of the very few Republicans to never endorse Trump during his presidential campaign in 2016, Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona finds himself at something of a crossroads with midterms on the horizon.
Flake will go up against Kelli Ward in the Republican primary in 2018. Ward has already aligned herself with President Donald Trump, and has attacked Flake for weakness because he hasn’t. Like most conformists, Ward thinks that going along with whatever our dangerously stupid president says somehow makes her stronger. She has received support from former Trump advisor Steve Bannon.
Flake, meanwhile, has said some very intelligent things with regards to Trump. He hates that this is what the GOP has become, and Politico reports that he calls the party’s relationship with Trump a “Faustian bargain.”
“Resentment is not a governing philosophy,” says Flake, who thinks the coming primary will serve as a test of the conscience of the Republican party. He’s staking his political career on opposing Trump, despite actually having some friends in the Trump administration. He often talks with Vice President Mike Pence, a man so defined by religious hatred that people joke about him wanting to mass murder LGBTQ people. This should signal to you that Flake is nothing if not an old-fashioned Republican, one of the ones who can’t believe that Trump dominates their party by exploiting the hatred and intolerance the GOP has subtly encouraged for decades.
Flake finds a kindred spirit in Senator Bob Corker, who recently publicly worried that Trump’s tweets might start “World War III” and called the White House an “adult day care center.”
But Bob Corker isn’t running for re-election.
Flake is, and the one poll thus far among Republican voters shows him lagging behind Kelli Ward. Flake might be staking everything on this re-election strategy, but it’s a risk that may result in Ward becoming the Republican candidate for the senatorial position. Running against the winner of Flake vs. Ward will be Democratic candidate Kyrsten Sinema, who fashions herself as a centrist. Democrats, campaign geniuses that they are, believe they can beat Ward in the election.