Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., speaks to members of the media as he walks to a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington Thursday, July 13, 2017. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., rolls out the GOP's revised health care bill, pushing toward a showdown vote next week with opposition within the Republican ranks. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Republicans Have Been Needing to do This a Long Time. But This One is Nutty.

Back when Fred Thompson ran for President, he was increasingly frustrated with the GOP leadership and I remember telling him if he wanted to generate some campaign buzz and harness his frustration he should consider endorsing some incumbents’ opponents. He, probably rightly, decided it would make his presidential campaign just look like it was grasping at straws to stay viable. I still wish he had done it. Rick Perry in 2012 and then Ted Cruz in 2016 came the closest to rocking the boat in that way and they wouldn’t cross the line either. Well, White House squeezes Jeff Flake – POLITICO: “”
now the White House intends to.

The White House has met with at least three actual or prospective primary challengers to Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake in recent weeks, a reflection of Donald Trump’s strained relations with the senator and the latest sign of the president’s willingness to play hardball with lawmakers who cross him — even Republican incumbents.

Flake, a longtime Trump critic who refused to endorse the president during the 2016 campaign, is one of a handful of undecided Republican votes on the Obamacare repeal effort. He’s also one of the most vulnerable Republicans up for reelection in 2018.

I have been monumentally disappointed in Jeff Flake since he went to the Senate. He went from being a solid Club For Growth candidate in the House to a squish in the Senate. The problem with this is that a number of Flake’s would be GOP rivals are nuttier than a snicker bar.

White House officials deny they are actively recruiting a challenger or that any decision has been made to target Flake. Within the highest levels of the administration, there is hesitancy to antagonize the senator, whose support is needed as the president struggles to push his ambitious agenda through Congress. There is also some skepticism that Flake, who has spent over 15 years in elected office and hails from a prominent Arizona political family, can be defeated in a primary.

An administration-backed primary challenge to Flake would also further inflame tensions with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who over the last several weeks has had several run-ins with the White House over political planning. McConnell, who is fiercely protective of GOP incumbents and has vowed to protect those facing primaries, recently became enraged when a Trump-sanctioned outside group launched an advertising blitz targeting Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, who was also critical of the president during the 2016 campaign, over his refusal to back the Obamacare repeal plan.

Honestly, Heller is the guy to go after. He’s more Democrat than Republican anyway. Despite my frequent disagreements with Flake, the guy is still a Republican and at the end of the day is going to stand with the GOP. Heller is just an opportunist.

Going after Flake is only going to hurt the White House and sets Flake up as an outsider hero. There are Republicans who should be challenged in primaries. I’m just not sure the White House needs to be leading the effort against Jeff Flake. Let the Senate Conservatives Fund do it.

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Erick Erickson

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