Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, who made the politically unwise but morally sound decision to write a book challenging his party’s president earlier this year, announced on Tuesday that he will not seek a second term. And he is not going out quietly.
“We have fooled ourselves long enough that a pivot to governing is just around the corner,” Flake said in a searing speech on the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon. He spoke of the “reckless” leadership in the White House. “When such behavior emanates from the top of our government, it’s something else: a danger to our democracy.”
Though Flake had been a reliable Republican vote for President Trump’s agenda, his criticism of the president collapsed what were already middling numbers among Arizona Republicans. He was facing a serious uphill climb to win his primary election next year, against former state Sen. Kelli Ward or a to-be-determined, Trump-backed challenger.
Flake dispensed with the usual excuses about wanting to spend more time with his family, and admitted that in order to win the primary, he would have to become a hard-right, bullying caricature.
“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.”