Regardless of how you feel about Donald Trump, there’s one thing that’s for certain: his opponents don’t usually fare very well.
Last year, Trump tore through a highly competitive field of Republicans in the primaries, embarrassed Hillary Clinton in the general election despite the overwhelming odds stacked in her favor, and has since continued to bowl over anyone who stands in his way. The latest victim of Trump’s overwhelming momentum and political sway is Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, who has just recently announced that he will not seek reelection in 2018.
Trump’s feud with Senator Flake has been going on for a while now. Even while on the campaign trail, Trump announced that he would consider spending up to $10 million to support Flake’s primary opponent, Dr. Kelli Ward. Since then, Trump and Flake have continued to trade barbed remarks. According to the polls, though, it was Flake that came out on the losing end of their war-of-words.
In the latest polls, twice as many Arizonians said that they would vote for Ward as those who said that they would vote for Flake. This lack of support for an incumbent senator this far out from the election is almost unprecedented, and faced with such overwhelming odds, Senator Flake had little option but to accept inevitable defeat and withdraw from the election. Though he gave an impassioned speech saying he withdrew from the race on the principle of refusing to work with Donald Trump, almost every news outlet reporting on his withdrawal cited his abysmal polling numbers as the true reason.
Of course, Donald Trump wasn’t the only influential figure to come out against Jeff Flake. Conservative radio host Laura Ingrahm and former White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon have both campaigned heavily for Kelli Ward. Though Flake had the support of other establishment Republicans such as John McCain and House Speaker Paul Ryan, their support clearly failed to have the same effect as those campaigning against him.
So, what does this mean for conservatives in Arizona and conservatives across the nation? The good news is that Kelli Ward is a staunch conservative. She is pro-life, pro-small government, and against amnesty for illegal aliens. Though Senator Flake is a Republican, he’s about as moderate as they come, and not nearly as entrenched in conservatism as Kelli Ward. Given the current political winds towards electing partisan purists, it’s little surprise that Flake was polling so far behind Dr. Ward in spite of the fact that he is an incumbent senator.
After hearing Flake had dropped out of the race, Dr. Ward tweeted out, “Arizona voters are the big winner in @JeffFlake’s decision to not seek reelection. They deserve a strong, conservative in the Senate.”
Of course, getting Ward into the Senate requires her to win the general election in Arizona as well. While she has now become the favorite by far to win the Republican primary in Arizona, the general election is shaping up to be a tight race. Many analysts argue that Ward is too far right on many issues to win the general election in Arizona – especially since the state has been shifting more and more purple over the years. However, these same analysts said the same thing about Trump’s ability to win the general election as well as Judge Roy Moore’s ability to win the run-off in Alabama against the incumbent Luther Strange. In both cases, voters demonstrated that they are much more willing to elect so-called “far-right” candidates than analysts assumed.
Overall, the political tides seem to be turning in favor of staunch conservatives over Democrats and moderate Republicans alike. Politicians such as Senator Flake seem to have forgotten far too soon that the same base that put Trump in the White House is the base that they must rely on to keep them in power as well. Flake and several others such as Senator Bob Corker out of Tennessee, who also announced that he will not seek reelection, bit the hand that feeds them and are now seeing the consequences.
On the campaign trail, Trump promised that he would drain the swamp. Whether you see moderate, establishment Republicans such as Senator Flake as part of that swamp may be a matter of opinion, but either way, it looks like Trump is making good on that promise.
~ Liberty Planet