As the political battle is joined in D.C. the implications for the 2018 campaign are starting to emerge.
Conservative GOP Congressman Paul Gosar is considering a primary challenge to incumbent GOP Senator and frequent Trump critic Jeff Flake.
Gosar, a fourth-term representative from Arizona’s 4th Congressional District, said people have asked him to consider running against Flake, and he’s considering it.
“People are not happy. And you know, when people ask, I’m a dentist, and so I listen to what the problem is, I take in the information and make wise decisions. So I’ve made no decision, but that’s where we go,” Gosar told the Arizona Capitol Times.
Flake’s frequent clashes with President Donald Trump throughout his 2016 campaign and into the early days of his presidency have earned him the enmity of many in the Republican base. During a contentious meeting between Trump and Republican senators last year, Flake introduced himself to the then-nominee as, “Arizona’s other senator, the one who didn’t get captured,” in a reference to Trump’s criticism of fellow U.S. Sen. John McCain’s war record. Flake skipped the Republican National Convention, quipping that he couldn’t go because he had to mow his lawn.
Gosar himself was subject to a primary challenge from more establishment oriented Republicans last year for his seat in the House.
Regardless of Gosar’s ultimate decision, Flake is already facing a challenge from Kelli Ward who ran an unsuccessful primary campaign against the state’s senior Senator, Republican John McCain.
The bigger challenge from the Trump wing of the GOP for Flake may turn out to be state Treasurer Jeff DeWitt.
DeWit was a strong Trump supporter, serving as chairman of his Arizona campaign before becoming his national campaign’s chief operating officer. And people close to Flake worry that DeWit could potentially exploit the senator’s adversarial history with Trump.
The GOP is still adjusting to life under Trump’s leadership. After years of establishment-Tea Party fighting a new front not quite fitting with either group, the Trump wing, is emerging. President’s normally stay out of primary fights and when they do enter it’s almost always for the incumbent (think George W. Bush backing Arlen Specter vs. Pat Toomey in 2004) but given their public feud, it’s conceivable Trump would openly support someone like DeWitt in a challenge to Flake.
Congressman Fred Upton is reported to be considering a run for the Senate in the state Trump narrowly won in November. Having recently given up the Chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee now may be a natural time for him to look for new opportunities. If he does make the run he will have a not so secret weapon that will sure to attract round the clock Free Beacon coverage: his niece is model/actress Kate Upton.
The 2018 Democrats up for Senate re-election in Trump states is one of the big stories of this cycle and one of the most potentially vulnerable, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, just got some good news.
Rep. Susan Brooks, R-Carmel, is passing on the challenge.
“Our country has many opportunities and challenges ahead, and I love and am focused on being a strong leader for the Fifth District in Congress,” Brooks said in a statement.
Other GOP members of the delegation, such as Reps. Luke Messer or Todd Rokita, still could announce a bid.
Donnelly won his seat in 2012 after his opponent Republican Richard Mourdock was caught up in a debate over abortion rights for victims of rape and incest. Mourdock was also at a disadvantage after winning the nomination from longtime Senator Richard Lugar in a bitter primary battle.
Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates became an instant Democratic celebrity when she refused to allow the Department of Justice to defend President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration. So naturally there’s already talk of her as a candidate either for Congress (in Tom Price’s district should he be confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services) or Governor in her home state of Georgia. While it’s early, he prior time as US Attorney in Georgia may have left some hard feelings among local Democrats.
Seth C. Clark, a Democratic strategist, said she can help Democrats who have long struggled to regain power in Georgia appeal to a broader electorate.
“The biggest problem Democrats have in the state of Georgia is this elusive white vote that we’ve been chasing since Sonny Perdue won,” he said. “And I’ll tell you, a woman who prosecuted a whole bunch of Atlanta politicians, with Republican support and now a full-throated stand against Donald Trump – well, that might be the magic bullet.”
And yet. Yates’ office also led the prosecution of state Rep. Tyrone Brooks, which may have alienated more Georgia Democrats than any other decision she made as the city’s top federal prosecutor. The longtime civil rights leader ultimately pleaded guilty to tax fraud and no contest to wire and mail fraud charges related to the misappropriation of approximately $1 million from non-profit organizations. Former Gov. Roy Barnes was one of Brooks’ attorneys.
And 2017 was supposed to be a slow year for elections.