As a strong GOP primary challenger has risen against Sen. Jeff Flake, Politico reported that in fall 2016 then-presidential candidate Donald Trump said he was considering putting $10 million behind a Flake challenger.
On Monday Politico reported on Trump’s fall 2016 comments about ousting Flake, made while backstage at one of his campaign rallies: Trump “spoke animatedly about his desire to find a primary challenger to the senator — at one point saying he would put up $10 million toward the anti-Flake effort.” The report cited “two sources familiar with the conversation last fall.”
Former Arizona State Senator Kelli Ward has already launched her bid to take over Flake’s seat in the U.S. Senate. Upon the announcement of her campaign, Ward stated, “The #NeverTrump movement led by Sen. Jeff Flake has been an appalling example of power gone awry to the detriment of our country.”
When asked to respond to the report that Trump had considered putting money behind a Flake primary challenger, Ward told Breitbart News:
President Trump and his supporters need to look no further for a viable candidate to take out Sanctuary Senator Jeff Flake than Kelli Ward. As a proven conservative with a record of supporting president Trump and his agenda to secure the border, grow the economy, stop Obamacare, fix the VA, and make America energy independent, Arizona has an opportunity to make history. First and foremost, we will send home a sitting senator who is not doing his job. Secondly, Arizona has the chance to elect our first woman to the United States Senate. After a very successful trip to DC and New York, I’m confident that I will have the backing I need to drain the swamp in 2018.
According to the Politico report citing “three sources familiar with the president’s thinking,” Trump believes that Flake and Nevada Sen. Dean Heller are committed to undermining the President.
When Ward challenged GOP Sen. John McCain last year, she received last minute support from Robert Mercer with a $200,000 contribution, according to Politico. Several other high-profile endorsements came in late in the race, and a PAC came out with a $600,000 ad campaign against McCain.
In the end McCain came out with almost 52 percent of the vote to Ward’s nearly 40 percent. Two other Republicans in the race each pulled single digit percentages of the vote. It was a tighter margin than when J.D. Hayworth challenged McCain in 2010.
Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana