Republican Senator Jeff Flake announced that he won’t be running for Arizona senate this Tuesday in what can be considered a huge victory for the Steve Bannon side of the GOP midterm civil war.
Jeff Flake ran succesfully for Arizona senate in 2012, crushing the Republican primary with 69% of the votes and defeating his Democratic rival with almost 50% of the votes. But his term has been plagued with controversy. He was part of the Gang of Eight which included four Democrats and four Republicans that promoted an immigration reform bill that would give a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. That alongside his anti-Trump remarks and alignment with the GOP establishment of Mitch McConnell made him one of Steve Bannon’s biggest targets. His approval ratings have plummeted and the Trump-Bannon favored challenger Kelli Ward was already beating him in the polls with double digits.
Jeff Flake seems to realize that he was set to lose and has thrown in the towel saying that in order to win he would have to take positions on trade and immigration that he does not support. He has stated that Trump has effectively hijacked the Republican party and that candidates with his views on immigration see a more narrow chance of victory.
His decision to not seek re-election puts Kelli Ward, the most Trumpist candidate in the 2018 midterm elections as the clear frontrunner in the race with only 2 other fringe candidates seeking the Republican nomination.
Kelli Ward is a former state senator who decided to run against Jeff Flake on a clear America First inspired campaign being anti-war, anti-illegal immigration and in favor of the US-Mexico wall. Previously during the 2016 Senate election she ran in the Republican primary against John McCain and was endorsed and interviewed by Ron Paul for her anti-war stance but ended up losing to McCain. But this time thanks to Jeff Flake’s unpopularity she was leading in the polls, and now she is definitely set to win the Republican nomination.
Ward will still have to face two other candidates in the primary and a Democratic candidate in the generals. The primary challengers include the notoriously infamous revenge porn site hoster Craig Brittain and pharmacist Nicholas Tutora. But neither seem to pose a challenge to Ward and don’t even appear in any polls. The Democrats will likely nominate Kyrsten Sinema, a Democratic Representative who’s considered a centrist that aligns with the centre-right Blue Dog Democrats. But as Arizona is a red state that hasn’t seen a Democratic senator since 1988 it would take a huge upset for them to win.
Overall Flake’s surrender can be considered a huge victory for Steve Bannon’s camp who declared a bloody civil war on the Republican establishment in a similar fashion to what the Tea Party did during Obama’s terms. He already gained victory before when his favored candidate the evangelical Roy Moore defeated Luther Strange in the Alabama Senate by-election despite being endorsed by Trump. This suggests that the America First movement has outgrown Trump and become a huge factor this midterm election that we’ll be hearing a lot about.