Flake to run for Arizona Senate; Update: Club for Growth endorses Flake

posted at 8:48 am on February 14, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Those dismayed by the surprise announcement of Jon Kyl’s retirement from the Senate may have reason to cheer after all.  Jeff Flake, who conducted a quixotic fight against Congressional pork for years before it became Tea Party cool, will announce today that he intends to run for Kyl’s seat in 2012:

Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., will announce Monday that he will run for the U.S. Senate being vacated by Sen. Jon Kyl, a source has told The Arizona Republic.

Flake, who was first elected to Congress in 2000, has long expressed interest in running for the Senate. He will make it official at an 8 a.m. news conference at the same Phoenix hotel where Kyl on Thursday announced that he will retire when his current term ends in January 2013.

Kyl was a conservative stalwart of a more Establishment bent, and by all accounts a class act.  His retirement at 70 (in 2012) – relatively young for the Senate – put the GOP on the defensive in a cycle where Republicans are expected to win control of the upper chamber.  Having a popular incumbent run for re-election is much easier than winning an open seat, and it will take more resources away from other competitive races no matter what happens.

However, Flake’s decision may turn this into a blessing.  Flake is a non-Establishment conservative, a man who has spent more time fighting Republican spending than most of the Democrats in the House.  If the GOP needed a headliner for Tea Party conservatives in the 2012 Senate cycle in the same role that Marco Rubio filled in 2010, Flake would be perfect.  Young at 50 years of age next year, photogenic, and with a warehouse full of credibility on fiscal responsibility and reform, Flake could easily be the secondary face of the Republican Party in 2012 behind whoever ends up at the top of the presidential ticket.

Democrats may have a difficult time finding a competitive candidate to face Flake, assuming Flake wins the primary.  Janet Napolitano’s name has been mentioned, but given her performance as Homeland Security chief and her ties to the Obama administration, that sounds like a desperation move.  Gabrielle Giffords’ name has also been mentioned, and it would be lovely if she has recovered enough by then to even contend for the seat, but right now people are properly focused on her physical recovery and ability to once again represent her district.  Raul Grijalva won a tough race in the neighboring district last year and might be tempted to upgrade in 2012, and perhaps could be a formidable candidate as well.

Update: It didn’t take long for the Club for Growth to make up its mind.  They issued this press release at 10:20 this morning ET:

Club for Growth PAC today endorsed U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake in the 2012 U.S. Senate election in Arizona.  Flake launched his candidacy today, in the wake of Sen. Jon Kyl’s decision to retire from the Senate after this term.

“Jeff Flake is a proven, tireless champion for economic freedom, and Club for Growth PAC will do everything it can in the Republican primary and the general election to help him win this race,” said Club President Chris Chocola.

“Jon Kyl has been a strong, clear-eyed leader on pro-growth economic principles his entire career, and both Arizona and the country have benefited from his years of service,” Chocola said.  “Jeff Flake will make a perfect successor to Kyl in the seat.”

“It is of course commendable that Jeff Flake strongly opposed the worst policies of the Obama Administration, like the failed stimulus and the health care takeover,” Chocola added.  “But what’s really impressive about Jeff is that he had the guts to strongly oppose the worst policies of the Bush Administration and of the previous Republican Congress, like earmarks, bailouts, and the prescription drug entitlement.  That’s the kind of courage in the fight for freedom and limited government we need in the U.S. Senate.”

During the 2008 election cycle, Club for Growth PAC was instrumental in electing the most pro-growth, limited government conservative class in recent congressional history.  Club members supported Senate candidates like Pat Toomey, Marco Rubio, Mike Lee, Ron Johnson,  Rand Paul to the tune of $8.4 million.

Flake is the first candidate Club for Growth PAC has endorsed in the 2012 election cycle.


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Flake tan.

kevinkristy on February 14, 2011 at 8:52 AM

Democrats may have a difficult time finding a competitive candidate to face Flake, assuming Flake wins the primary. Janet Napolitano’s name has been mentioned, but given her performance as Homeland Security chief and her ties to the Obama administration, that sounds like a desperation move. Gabrielle Giffords’ name has also been mentioned, and it would be lovely if she has recovered enough by then to even contend for the seat, but right now people are properly focused on her physical recovery and ability to once again represent her district. Raul Grijalva won a tough race in the neighboring district last year and might be tempted to upgrade in 2012, and perhaps could be a formidable candidate as well.

So the Dems’ bench consists of Big Sis who thinks “the system worked” when a plane nearly got blown up by a terrorist, targeted returning vets, and thinks security on the border is just swell, Gabrielle Giffords who at best right now can utter the word “toast”, and Raul Grijalva who called for a boycott of his own state?

If that’s the case, then let me be the first to congratulate Sledge Hammer….errrr, Jeff Flake for his 2012 election to the US Senate.

Doughboy on February 14, 2011 at 8:53 AM

when does Senator Giffords (the newest Saint of the Marxist Media) begin her new position?

PappyD61 on February 14, 2011 at 8:55 AM

Raul Grijalva won a tough race in the neighboring district last year

Against a poorly-funded neophyte. Who was barely old enough to run for Congress. And who nobody knew from Adam before September of 2010. And in a majority-Hispanic district.

In what reality is this guy a formidable statewide candidate in Arizona?

KingGold on February 14, 2011 at 8:55 AM

Grijalva, a formidable candidate? Ha! Only the kooks in his gerrymandered district like him.

andy85719 on February 14, 2011 at 8:55 AM

Heard a report this morning on poor Gabrielle Giffords. Who they are NOT going to allow to go away and live the rest of her life gracefully if a drop of political blood can be squeezed from her:
“She’s able to sing along to parts of “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star” and she is being kept updated on the situation in Egypt.”

Marcus on February 14, 2011 at 8:56 AM

Janet Napolitano’s name has been mentioned, but given her performance as Homeland Security chief and her ties to the Obama administration, that sounds like a desperation move.

Although, now that the House GOP is slashing funds for border security (facepalm), she can campaign as being tougher on illegal immigration than the GOP.

Jon0815 on February 14, 2011 at 8:56 AM

Smart for Flake to get this out right away, just in case the Dems do get their Gabby Giffords miracle Senate candidacy. Better to get his name out there now statewide along with his bio and beliefs, than to do it later, when the media oxygen would be sucked out of the room and anyone who dared announce their candidacy on the Republican side would be treated as if they helped Jared Loughner pull the trigger.

jon1979 on February 14, 2011 at 8:56 AM

Grijalva’s victory was one of the big disappointments for me in the last election. I’d love to see him run against Flake and lose, which would leave him out of Congress altogether.

irishspy on February 14, 2011 at 8:57 AM

Raul Grijalva won a tough race in the neighboring district last year and might be tempted to upgrade in 2012, and perhaps could be a formidable candidate as well.

Mr. “Let’s boycott racist Arizona” Grijalva may be able to cheat well enough to win in his district full of illegals and their relatives, but he’s got no chance at all in a statewide race.

AZCoyote on February 14, 2011 at 9:00 AM

Sounds like an interesting guy. Look forward to hearing more.

jeanie on February 14, 2011 at 9:00 AM

Don’t discount Rep. Giffords’ husband.

Cindy Munford on February 14, 2011 at 9:02 AM

Don’t discount Rep. Giffords’ husband.

Cindy Munford on February 14, 2011 at 9:02 AM

That would surprise me. Her father, who said “every Tea Partier was her enemy”, not so much. Fortunately, we’re talking statewide and not who would possibly take her place in her district.

Marcus on February 14, 2011 at 9:09 AM

Raul Grijalva won a tough race in the neighboring district last year and might be tempted to upgrade in 2012, and perhaps could be a formidable candidate as well.

No, sir.

maverick muse on February 14, 2011 at 9:09 AM

Grijalva, a formidable candidate? Ha! Only the kooks in his gerrymandered district like him.

andy85719 on February 14, 2011 at 8:55 AM

What s/he said

Sekhmet on February 14, 2011 at 9:10 AM

Raul Grijalva, the representative who called for a boycott of his own state over SB1070, not gonna happen.

exdeadhead on February 14, 2011 at 9:10 AM

Harry Mitchell would contend statewide for “fiscally responsible” Democrats as his congressional platform ran.

maverick muse on February 14, 2011 at 9:11 AM

Any state that has elected McCain and Napolitano deserves pity. When we read about the unbridled invasion of hundreds of thousands of “immigrants” on an annual basis and see who they have elected to represent them, they have chosen leaders that have repeatedly stabbed them in the back. The same goes for Nevada with their unbelievable amount of foreclosures. Reid gets re-elected after proving time and time again he is unfit to lead anyone.Sometimes I guess the right to vote can be a dangerous thing.

volsense on February 14, 2011 at 9:13 AM

Gabriella Mercer has committed to run against Grijalva, some may remember video of her giving the Tucson City council “what for” because of their SB1070 opposition. The majority hispanic AZ 7th is about to have a nice conversation about illegal immigration.

exdeadhead on February 14, 2011 at 9:15 AM

Let Grijalva run so that cute rocket scientist has another shot at his congressional seat.

Mord on February 14, 2011 at 9:16 AM

volsense ignores the current and ongoing problematic reality given the current illegal alien VOTE that determines electoral results.

maverick muse on February 14, 2011 at 9:18 AM

If Flake ever becomes President, Owen Wilson is a shoo-in to play him in the biopic.

EnglishMike on February 14, 2011 at 9:20 AM

Flake will be an improvement over Kyl if he can win the seat. He has a principled approach to government that would cause it to recede from our lives and wallets.

dedalus on February 14, 2011 at 9:21 AM

Let Grijalva run so that cute rocket scientist has another shot at his congressional seat.

Mord on February 14, 2011 at 9:16 AM

Agreed.

RUTH MCCLUNG
Sometimes it does take a rocket scientist.

maverick muse on February 14, 2011 at 9:21 AM

The AZ Legislature/Gov. should appoint an interim Congressional Representative to function for constituents these many months while Giffords recuperates from the brain injury and trauma.

maverick muse on February 14, 2011 at 9:25 AM

Jesse Kelly ran an honorable campaign against Giffords in a blue district. I hope he can stay in the mix somehow. I heard him speak in person and found him impressive. There’s a future for him somewhere in Arizona.

parteagirl on February 14, 2011 at 9:26 AM

For a second, I thought Christine O’Donnell had moved to Arizona.

The Mega Independent on February 14, 2011 at 9:29 AM

“Flake to run for Arizona Senate” is a badly-worded headline.

He is running for one of the US Senate seats representing AZ. If elected, he will be a member of the “United States Senate”, not the “Arizona Senate”.
–Language Martinet

The AZ Legislature/Gov. should appoint an interim Congressional Representative to function for constituents these many months while Giffords recuperates from the brain injury and trauma.

There has never been any Constitutional provision for a states legislature or executive to appoint anyone to the House of Representatives, even temporarily. The only way to get that job is a vote of the people.
–Someone who has actually read the Constitution

The Monster on February 14, 2011 at 9:34 AM

Marcus on February 14, 2011 at 9:09 AM

He’ll be out of job soon. I agree with the statewide argument, I’m sure the entire state is sympathetic but not to the point that they are willing to put either in the Senate.

Cindy Munford on February 14, 2011 at 9:47 AM

McGruber without the mullet.

Tom_Shipley on February 14, 2011 at 9:53 AM

photogenic

Anyone run the shirtless island-y pic yet?

Abby Adams on February 14, 2011 at 10:01 AM

If that’s the case, then let me be the first to congratulate Sledge Hammer….errrr, Jeff Flake for his 2012 election to the US Senate.

Doughboy on February 14, 2011 at 8:53 AM

I don’t know if anybody else got the “Sledge Hammer” reference. You’re right, I remember that show and he’s a real look alike for that actor.

I also think he’d be great Senator.

Tim Zank on February 14, 2011 at 10:07 AM

You can recycle that headline if and when Janet Napololitano decides to run for the seat.

TedInATL on February 14, 2011 at 10:12 AM

PPP has a poll out already. Giffords 88%, Flake 12%

Mark1971 on February 14, 2011 at 10:16 AM

There has never been any Constitutional provision for a states legislature or executive to appoint anyone to the House of Representatives, even temporarily. The only way to get that job is a vote of the people.
–Someone who has actually read the Constitution

This is true. It is not clear whether this was an oversight by the Framers, who did provide for appointment to the Senate in the event that a Senator died in office, although in the original Constitution Senators were elected by state legislatures.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was duly elected by the voters of her district, and the tragic attack has left her unable to represent her district. She is entitled to re-take her seat in Congress as soon as she has recuperated, at any time until January 2013.

But this situation, of a living House member who is unable to represent her district, begs the question–should there be a provision in the Constitution for incapacitation of House members?

There is such a provision in the Constitution of the “Fifth Republic” in France, which was written in 1958. All candidates for the Assemblee Nationale, the French equivalent of the House of Representatives, appoint a “suppleant” (running mate) before a legislative election, who would take the candidate’s place if the candidate wins election, and then dies or is incapacitated in office. A candidate chooses someone who agrees with him/her politically, so that a replacement (if needed) does not affect the political balance of the Assemblee Nationale. If an elected member is temporarily incapacitated and then recovers (which could be true for Rep. Giffords), the elected member can take back his/her seat from the “suppleant” when able to exercise their duties.

Rep. Giffords’ district is not represented while she recovers, and crazies such as Jared Loughner could be tempted to attack other Representatives for political reasons. Back on 9/11, there was some concern that the hijacked plane which crashed in PA was intended to destroy the Capitol, which could have killed many members of the House, with no provision for their replacement. In light of such considerations, there may be good reasons to consider adoption of the French system for replacement of members of the House of Representatives, which would require an Amendment to the Constitution.

Steve Z on February 14, 2011 at 10:16 AM

Flake gets a C from NumbersUSA on immigration, and has supported amnesty in the past.

We could do worse than Flake, but we could do better, too.

rightwingyahooo on February 14, 2011 at 10:17 AM

For immigration hawks, Flake is not inspiring, let’s put it that way.

rightwingyahooo on February 14, 2011 at 10:18 AM

Raul Grijalva won a tough race in the neighboring district last year and might be tempted to upgrade in 2012, and perhaps could be a formidable candidate as well.

Isn’t he the guy that called for boycotting his own state? And is generally the most pro-illegal immigration politician in the state?

18-1 on February 14, 2011 at 10:24 AM

He’s our best bet since shadegg said no

cmsinaz on February 14, 2011 at 10:37 AM

I’d love to see him run against Flake and lose, which would leave him out of Congress altogether.

irishspy on February 14, 2011 at 8:57 AM

I would, too, but if he’s smart he won’t try. With a decent challenger he’ll have a difficult enough time defending his own House seat.

Anyway, decidedly not a “formidable” candidate for Senate.

Missy on February 14, 2011 at 10:38 AM

Heard a report this morning on poor Gabrielle Giffords. Who they are NOT going to allow to go away and live the rest of her life gracefully if a drop of political blood can be squeezed from her:
“She’s able to sing along to parts of “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star” and she is being kept updated on the situation in Egypt.”

Marcus on February 14, 2011 at 8:56 AM

That puts her miles above Hank Johnson.

fossten on February 14, 2011 at 10:42 AM

PPP has a poll out already. Giffords 88%, Flake 12%

Mark1971 on February 14, 2011 at 10:16 AM

Also in Arizona, Obama 97%, Palin 4%. With 3% margin of error.

KingGold on February 14, 2011 at 11:21 AM

All candidates for the Assemblee Nationale, the French equivalent of the House of Representatives, appoint a “suppleant” (running mate)

I’d support a Constitutional amendment to do something like that here, at least until the next state/local election allows the people to speak again.

But that’s not the rule we have now.

The Monster on February 14, 2011 at 11:28 AM

Gabrielle Giffords who at best right now can utter the word “toast”….

Doughboy on February 14, 2011 at 8:53 AM

What isn’t being reported is that she was responding to the question “Do you think Obama will be re-elected?”

Aviator on February 14, 2011 at 11:32 AM

I heart Jeff!
I’ll be happy to vote Flake-for-Senate.
I just hope I’ll get a congressional representative who’s as great as he is.

itsnotaboutme on February 14, 2011 at 12:36 PM

Flake looks pretty light in the ahh, slippers, in that pic, and we know he’s an amnesty stooge.

Not great. Jim Kolbe 2.0…..

rightwingyahooo on February 14, 2011 at 12:50 PM

When you said Flake… I thought “who wants a flake? we want a winner..” but then I saw he literally IS a Flake….

CynicalOptimist on February 14, 2011 at 1:50 PM

Raul Grijalva won a tough race in the neighboring district last year and might be tempted to upgrade in 2012, and perhaps could be a formidable candidate as well.

I’m sorry Ed. I love ya, but this analysis is way off base. Grijalva narrowly beat Ruth McClung in his own district that Dems outnumber Republicans by at least 70,000. To think he could pull off a statewide win in a bright red state is laughable. If Raul is smart, he will stay right where he is and even then he is going to face some tough opposition again in 2012.

Ordinary1 on February 14, 2011 at 3:07 PM

Grijalva, a formidable candidate? Ha! Only the kooks in his gerrymandered district like him.

andy85719 on February 14, 2011 at 8:55 AM

Actually I’d bet a large portion of the voters in that district couldn’t even tell you who their rep was, or even pick him out in a crowd.

clement on February 14, 2011 at 5:13 PM

Okay, blonde moment: I saw the headline and thought, gee, this guy must be a real loser if they’re calling him “flake”…

This is what happens with no sleep and cold medicine… :)

englishqueen01 on February 14, 2011 at 5:42 PM

He kinda resembles Paul Newman, no?

3dpuzzman on February 15, 2011 at 12:50 AM

Flake is good.

But losing Kyl is a big loss.

Is there any chance Kyl is running for President? I haven’t heard anyone even suggest it. I think he is a very rare politician. I like him very much.

petunia on February 15, 2011 at 1:45 AM

He’s our best bet since shadegg said no

cmsinaz on February 14, 2011 at 10:37 AM

Did Shadegg say no for sure? Dang.

Although I think Flake has a better chance. His looks get him on TV or he is better at publicity than Shadegg.

petunia on February 15, 2011 at 1:47 AM