Republican Jeff Flake of Arizona announced Tuesday that he will not seek reeelection to a 2nd term in 2018. Flake made his announcement on the Senate floor, in a speech that bemoaned the direction politics is taking in the United States.
Flake, who has had a difficult relationship with President Trump, made waves in his party earlier in the summer with his book "Conscience of a Conservative". Two polls from late summer had him trailing the much more conservative Kelli Ward by over 25% in the Republican primary. Ward is very much in the Trump/Bannon wing of the party. As Flake told The Arizona Republic "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."
The various pundits we track all had the 2018 Arizona Senate race as a toss-up, and they all reconfirmed that rating today. Interestingly, Flake's announcement might actually improve the Republican chances of holding this seat, as there are many who doubt Ward can win statewide should she take the Republican nomination. Flake's exit opens the door for other Republicans to run in 2018.
Whomever the Republicans choose, their likely Democratic opponent will be Rep. Kyrsten Sinema who announced her candidacy in late September.
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