Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake emerged in 2017 as a firebrand opponent of the Trump administration’s agenda, publicly denigrating the president and parting ways with the GOP on numerous key legislative matters. Is Flake setting himself up to challenge Donald Trump in the 2020 Republican primaries?
During a Sunday appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” Flake was directly asked if he was planning on running in the next election. He replied that he does not “rule anything out” as a matter of course.
“I do worry, that in the future we’ll be faced with a President Trump running for reelection on one side, drilling down hard on a diminishing base, and on the other side you might have, you know, somebody like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren on the far left of the Democratic Party,” he said.
“That leaves a huge swath of voters in the middle that are looking for something else,” Flake continued. Ultimately, he conceded that a presidential run was “not in my plans,” but he would be far from the first candidate to come up with a new plan come campaign season.
Earlier this year, Flake announced that he would not seek re-election in 2018 in a Senate floor speech that saw him vehemently rail against Trump’s approach to governance.
“We must never regard as ‘normal’ the regular and casual undermining of our Democratic norms and ideals,” he said at the time. “We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our contry – the personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions… the reckless provocations, most often for the pettiest and personal reasons.”
His disdain for Trump caused many Democrats to hope that Flake would break from the party line to oppose the GOP tax overhaul (including Rosie O’Donnell), but the Arizona lawmaker ultimately voted in favor of the bill, claiming that he had secured “fair and permanent protections for DACA recipients” in exchange for his vote.