Republican Senator Jeff Flake announced he will finish out his term in the U.S. Senate, but will not seek re-election. The junior senator from Arizona cited the current political climate as one reason why.
Sen. Jeff Flake already has bowed out on a re-election run next year, but the GOP lawmaker isnâ€™t ruling out challenging President Trump in 2020.
The Arizona senator told ABCâ€™s â€œThis Weekâ€ that he believes Trump is certain to get an independent challenger if he decides to seek a second term. Flake also added that he wouldnâ€™t be surprised if Trump gets challenged from within the party.
Will that challenger be Flake, who has been fiercely critical of Trump?
â€œThatâ€™s not in my plansâ€ but â€œI donâ€™t rule anything out,â€ Flake told the Sunday talk show.
Flake announced earlier this year that he wonâ€™t run for re-election in 2018. He faced an uphill battle as polls showed him facing a difficult intra-party challenge from a fellow Republican endorsed by former Trump senior adviser Steve Bannon.
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Flake said Trump was â€œprobably inviting a Republican challengeâ€ as well as an independent candidate challenge.
“People need to see what a traditional conservative looks like … (and)Â what it means to believe in the basic tenets of Republicanism,â€ he said.
Trump and Flake have repeatedly traded jabs. The senator has denounced Trumpâ€™s executive order banning Muslims from several countries from entering the U.S., criticizedÂ Trumpâ€™s penchant personal attacks on opponents, and charged that the current presidentâ€™s administration has overseen “the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals.â€
Trump has repeatedly pilloried Flake on Twitter, referring to him as Flake(y) and as a RINO (Republican in name only.)
Most recently, Flake criticized Bannon and Trumpâ€™s endorsement of Republican Roy Moore who lost earlier this month to Democrat Doug Jones in a special election for Alabamaâ€™s U.S. senate seat. Several women saidÂ Moore sought dates and romantic relationships with them when they were teenagers and he was in early 30s. One woman, Leigh Corfman, alleged that Moore initiated sexual contact with her when she was 14.
Flake on Sunday said he believes Moore will be a “lasting” stain on the Republican Party. He added that he’s hopeful Bannon’s role within the party is being marginalized.
“The last thing we need is to push that ultranationalist, ethno-nationalist, protectionist kind of element of the party,â€ Flake said. â€œThat’s not good for us.â€