Jeff Flake's surprise announcement this afternoon that he won't seek re-election adds another to the list of Trump Senate foes who won't face the voters next November.
Pair that with: Trump and retiring Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) escalated their feud today, with Trump tweeting that Corker couldn't win an election for dog catcher, and Corker responding that Trump will be remembered for "the debasement of our nation."
Key Flake quotes from his retirement speech this afternoon:
- "We must stop pretending that the degradation of politics in our executive branch are normal, they're not normal... it's reckless, outrageous, and undignified... it's dangerous to our democracy."
- "We have fooled ourselves long enough that Trump... will return to civility... We know better than that."
- "When we remain silent... because we might alienate the base... we dishonor our principles and forsake our obligations."
- "If I am critical it is not because I relish criticizing the president of the U.S. If I have been critical it is because I feel an obligation to do so..."
- "We must never accept...personal attacks, threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions."
- "I have children and grandchildren to answer to, and so Mr. President, I will not be complicit or silent."
The White House response to Flake and Corker: "petty" and "grandstanding."
And a reality check on Flake, from Axios' Jonathan Swan:
- "Flake was dead. Everybody knew it, including Republican leadership and the NRSC. The public polls showed he was going to lose badly to Kelli Ward and I'm told the internal polling wasn't much better."
- "The GOP has a commitment to defend incumbents but money is finite, and they're not about to pour endless amounts of cash into a losing race. Some senior officials, including several people who considered themselves close to Flake, were blindsided by his anti-Trump book."
- "Bottom line on the politics: he was a goner. And even if he pulled off an unexpected primary victory against Ward, how would he turn out Trump voters in the general election?"