Saying he would no longer be ‘silent or complicit,’ Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake announced Tuesday from the Senate floor that he would not be running for re-election.
Flake, who has been a constant thorn in President Trump’s side – earning plenty of ire from the president too – noted that he had ‘children and grandchildren to answer to.’
‘I decided I would be better able to represent the people of Arizona and to better serve my country and my conscience by freeing myself of the political consideration that consumed far too much bandwidth and would cause me to compromise far too many principles,’ Flake said.
‘To that end, I am announcing today that my service in the Senate will conclude at the end of my term in early January 2019,’ he added.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called Flake’s diatribe ‘petty’ and also suggested his departure from the Senate was probably for the best.
‘I haven’t spoken with him directly since the announcement by Sen. Flake,’ Huckabee Sanders said of Trump. ‘But I think that based on previous statements and certainly based on the lack of support that he has from the people of Arizona, it’s probably a good move.’
And that was surely the case Tuesday as Flake tore into the politics of President Trump through his Senate address.
Flake had previewed his political escape to the Arizona Republic saying earlier Tuesday, ‘there may not be a place for a Republican like me in the current Republican climate or the current Republican Party.’
He said he hadn’t soured on the Senate, but rather the current condition of his Trump-led party.
‘This spell will pass, but not by next year,’ Flake said.
On the floor, Flake said he had risen to address ‘a matter that has been very much on my mind at a moment when it seems that our democracy is more defined by our discord and dysfunction than our own values and principles.’
He began his speech by making the ‘obvious point,’ that elected political office isn’t an indefinite career.
‘We are not here to simply mark time,’ he noted. ‘Sustained incumbency is certainly not the point of seeking offices and there are time when we must risk our careers in favor of our principles.’
‘Now is such a time,’ he said.