Top Trump Donor Declares War on Jeff Flake in Arizona
A major Donald Trump political benefactor has entered the fray against Senator Jeff Flake in Arizona, donating $300,000 to his primary opponent, Dr. Kelli Ward.
Robert Mercer, a reclusive hedge fund billionaire who was intimately involved in Trump’s rise and helped to bankroll his 2016 campaign, gave the funds to a super PAC supporting former state Sen. Kelli Ward. Mrs. Ward is not stranger to the political arena in Arizona having already lost to Senator John McCain in last year’s Republican primary.
This move is the latest sign that Trump’s political machine is preparing to take on Flake, whose persistent attacks have angered the president. The White House had already met with Ward and two other Republicans who are mulling primary challenges to the Arizona senator, state Treasurer Jeff DeWit and former state GOP Chairman Robert Graham.
It would appear that this might signal Mrs. Ward as the candidate of choice for Trump.
Flake recently made waves with the release of his new book, “Conscience of a Conservative,” in which he blamed Republicans for contributing to the rise of Donald Trump, and called on “true” conservatives to rise up and challenge him. This of course, riled up President Trump, but it certainly hasn’t done the Senator any favors either.
Flake is considered one of the most vulnerable GOP senators up for reelection in 2018, and many senior Republicans are worried that his manifesto will hurt his prospects — and further inflame tensions with the administration.
During the 2016 campaign, Flake refused to endorse Trump and called on him to withdraw after the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape, in which Trump was heard boasting about groping women. The senator refused to attend the GOP convention, saying that he had to stay home to mow his lawn.
His jabs rankled candidate Trump, who at one point said that he would be willing to spend $10 million of his own money to defeat Flake in a 2018 primary.
As reported by Politico, during a press briefing last week, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to rule out the possibility that the president would help finance an anti-Flake primary effort.
Sen. Flake would serve his constituents much better if he was less focused on writing a book and attacking the president and more involved in passing legislation.
This isn’t the first time Mercer has contributed to Mrs. Ward, having given money to a pro-Ward super PAC, KelliPAC, during the 2016 campaign.
The president has yet to declare his support for any of Flake’s prospective opponents, yet he is keeping tabs on the primary, but if the money that is now coming into Ward’s race is any indication, she may be the horse that he is betting on to take Senator Flake’s seat.
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