Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) announced Tuesday that he would not seek re-election in 2018.
“I rise today with no small measure of regret,” Flake began in a speech on the Senate floor. “I’m announcing today that my service in the Senate will conclude at the end of my term in early January 2019.”
” It is clear at this moment that a traditional conservative, who believes in limited government and free markets, who is devoted to free trade, who is pro-immigration, has a narrower and narrower path to nomination in the Republican Party, the party that has so long defined itself by its belief in those things,” he added.
Flake again used the “narrower path to nomination” when he spoke to reporters after his floor speech saying also that if he could run the kind of campaign that he wanted to run and win that he would continue.
Flake used his announcement to blame President Trump for his leaving the Senate.
Mr. President, I rise today to say: enough. We must dedicate ourselves to making sure that the anomalous never becomes the normal. With respect and humility, I must say that we have fooled ourselves for long enough that a pivot to governing is right around the corner, a return to civility and stability right behind it.
would we Republicans meekly accept such behavior on display from dominant Democrats?
Of course, we wouldn’t, and we would be wrong if we did.
While it is clear that Flake pointed his scolding finger at President Trump, a full reading of his comments could be seen as a condemnation of the dishonest and hurtful language coming from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as well.
At a moment when it seems that our democracy is more defined by our discord and our dysfunction than by our own values and principles, let me begin by noting the somewhat obvious point that these offices that we hold are not ours indefinitely. We are not here simply to mark time. Sustained incumbency is certainly not the point of seeking office and there are times when we must risk our careers in favor of our principles. Now is such a time.
It must also be said that I rise today with no small measure of regret. Regret because of the state of our disunion, regret because of the disrepair and destructiveness of our politics. Regret because of the indecency of our discourse. Regret because of the coarseness of our leadership.
But Flake makes his target clear saying that politicians “must stop pretending that the degradation of our politics and the conduct of some in our executive branch are normal.”
Flake has been in a feud with the President over immigration policy and his book which is critical of Trump. The president then put his support behind Flake’s primary challenger, Dr. Kelli Ward.
Ward is a supporter of Trump’s full agenda and will likely pull in Trump voters in the 2018 mid-term election – something Flake was not going to accomplish.
Flake is also challenged on the left by centrist Democrat Kyrsten Sinema who is seeking his seat in 2018.
The attack on both sides of Flake’s establishment positions may be what he referred to in his now echoed “narrower path to the nomination” comment. His establishment positions and a feud with the president left much room on either side of him for a defeat.
And here’s Flake’s performance in full: