Leading Trump Critic Within the GOP Announces He Won't Seek Reelection.
Condemning the nastiness of Republican politics in the era of President Donald Trump, Sen. Jeff Flake on Tuesday announced he will serve out the remainder of his term but will not seek re-election in 2018.
The bombshell, which Flake, R-Ariz., intended to detail Tuesday afternoon on the Senate floor, will further roil Republican hopes of keeping the party's 52-seat Senate majority in the midterm elections of Trump's first term, when the president's party historically loses seats in Congress.
It also likely will upend the race for Flake's seat.
Flake, one of the Senate's more prominent critics of President Donald Trump, has been struggling in the polls.
He told The Arizona Republic ahead of his announcement that he has become convinced "there may not be a place for a Republican like me in the current Republican climate or the current Republican Party."
Flake said he has not "soured on the Senate" and loves the institution, but that as a traditional, libertarian-leaning conservative Republican he is out of step with today's Trump-dominated GOP.
"This spell will pass, but not by next year," Flake said.
Among Republican primary voters, there's overwhelming support for Trump's positions and "behavior," Flake said, and one of their top concerns is whether a candidate is with the president or against him. While Flake said he is with Trump on some issues, on other issues he is not. And Trump definitely views him as a foe, having denounced Flake publicly and called him "toxic" on Twitter.
"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 Republic in a telephone interview. "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."
As of Sept. 30, Flake's campaign had $3.4 million on hand. He has continued to raise money — as recently as Thursday, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice headlined a fundraiser for him in Arizona.