These are the Most Likely GOP Candidates to Replace Jeff Flake


The resignation of Jeff Flake has changed the landscape of the 2018 Senate race landscape.
According to a report from TheHill, instead of a one on one matchup between Jeff Flake and Trump-agenda friendly Kelli Ward, a wide open field, including establishment republicans may challenge for the seat.
From TheHill
Sen. Jeff Flake’s (R-Ariz.) shock decision not to run for reelection has shaken up the GOP primary race, giving Republicans new hope that they can hold onto the critical Senate seat in 2018.
In normal circumstances, an incumbent senator’s retirement would be bad news for the party holding the seat and a general election opportunity for its opponents.
But Flake’s uniquely weak position with voters and the expected general election flaws of his sole primary challenger, former state Sen. Kelli Ward, mean that Flake’s retirement could actually create a more favorable situation for Republicans.
Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon, who endorsed Ward, has taken credit for the Arizona senator’s departure. But the now wide-open race could attract potential Republican candidates who see a new opportunity with the incumbent out of the race, with GOP establishment groups eventually coalescing around a candidate they think will fare better in the general election than Ward.
Republicans feel better about their prospects of keeping the seat in GOP hands, given Flake’s underwater numbers in both the primary and general election.
Flake’s public feud with Trump had weakened his standing with the conservative base and made him vulnerable in a primary. Flake kept up the attacks in his Tuesday speech on the Senate floor, saying he no longer wants to be “complicit.”
“The field as it currently stood was a definitive loser, whether it was Flake or Ward at the top of the ticket. This seat was history and it was hello Sen. Sinema,” an Arizona Republican operative told The Hill, referencing likely Democratic nominee Rep. Kyrsten Sinema. “Now Republicans have a chance to win this race.”
Nearly a dozen names are already being floated, as some potential candidates confirm that they’re considering bids while others are merely rumored to be mulling runs. The potential contenders include members of Congress, state lawmakers and former Trump campaign staffers.
Some of the rumored names include GOP Reps. David Schweikert and Martha McSally. Republican Rep. Paul Gosar ruled out a bid on Wednesday.
Other potential candidates include former Rep. Matt Salmon, state Attorney General Mark Brnovich and businesswoman Christine Jones.
Even controversial former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was pardoned by Trump in August, said he wouldn’t rule out a bid.
Others have already indicated that they’re taking a look at the race, including two former Trump campaign staffers and GOP Rep. Trent Franks, who said he’s considering a bid, according to the Washington Examiner.
Arizona state treasurer Jeff DeWit, the chief operating officer of Trump’s Arizona campaign, told Fox Business Network that he’s waiting to see how the field shakes out over the coming days. He previously considered a Senate bid and met with the White House multiple times this year.
“I’m curious myself to see where we all stand, and there are a lot of rumored names to be in that race, mine obviously one of them,” DeWit said. “We’re all kind of waiting to do our homework and make the right decision.”
Robert Graham, a former Arizona GOP chairman who also worked on Trump’s state campaign, confirmed to The Hill that he’s taking a look at the race and will likely announce his decision in the next week or so.
Graham plans to travel to Washington, D.C. soon as he considers his bid. Graham had also previously met with the White House earlier this year.
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