President Trump and top administration officials are reportedly meeting with prospective primary challengers to Senator Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., one of the president’s fiercest critics in Congress and a CR Top 25 RINO, Politico reports.
Two anonymous sources who spoke to Politico and who the publication says are “familiar with the talks” said Trump has spoken with Arizona Republican state treasurer Jeff DeWit at least twice and that White House officials have had discussions with state Sen. Kelli Ward – who previously challenged Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., unsuccessfully – and Arizona GOP Chairman Robert Graham. DeWit and Graham are both exploring campaigns, while Ward has already announced her candidacy.
Noted as one of the most vulnerable GOP senators in the 2018 Republican primaries, Senator Flake refused to support Trump for president in 2016. Flake has consistently voiced doubt as to whether the president can achieve his top legislative priorities like repealing Obamacare or constructing a wall on the southern border. Senator Flake has also criticized the Trump administration’s temporary limited immigration ban, calling it “unacceptable,” and also called on Trump to apologize for claiming that former President Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower before the 2016 election.
President Trump has little love for Flake as well. Last fall, Trump supposedly considered spending $10 million of his own money to defeat Flake. David Bossie, Trump’s deputy campaign manager and president of Citizens United, reportedly told Graham that either he or DeWit would receive widespread support from conservatives should either of them decide to challenge Flake.
Senator Flake is just one of several Republican senators up for re-election who ought to face a primary challenge from conservatives. The question is, if the Trump administration is looking for a candidate to take on Jeff Flake, are they looking for a conservative?